Alejano laments gov’t inaction over harassment of Filipino fishermen
After reports came out regarding Filipino fishermen being harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard at the West Philippine Sea, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano has lamented the alleged inaction of the government.
“Ang mga fishermen ho natin, nakakalungkot, [I feel sorry for our fishermen] they cannot rely on their own government,” Alejano said in a press conference on Saturday at the University Hotel in the University of the Philippines.
“In fact ‘yong isang tinanong ko nung March last year, napagalitan pa ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas bakit daw sila nagsumbong sa media na binaril sila, na pinaputukan sila ng Chinese,” Alejano added.
(The person I asked in March last year was even reprimanded by Philippine authorities for telling the media that they were fired upon, they were being shot by the Chinese.)
The lawmaker’s comments came after a recent GMA News documentary showed the state of Filipino fishermen in the western seas of the country, especially in Bajo de Masinloc or the Scarborough Shoal, off the waters of Zambales.
In a cellphone video, GMA’s documentary team captured members of the Chinese Coast Guard as they approached Filipino fishermen to ask fish. However, since there was still no catch during the time, the Chinese Coast Guard left them.
Recently, Tirso Atiga, president of the Calapandayan Fishermen Multipurpose Cooperative questioned the government regarding its stand on the alleged harassment by Chinese authorities.
“Are we slaves of China? It seems that our government has not acted on [these forms of aggression],” Atiga said in the headline story of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday.
Malacañang also assured fishermen that if it is proven that Chinese Coast Guard has harassed Filipino fishermen, the Philippines can file a protest against China. However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the video was “inconclusive,” and that it did not show the Filipinos being bullied.
“Kawawa talaga tayo, habang ang ating mga leaders, nagsasabing okay tayo sa China [I really really feel sorry for ourselves even as our leaders are saying we are okay with China],” Alejano said.
No to war with China, but…
Alejano agreed with the administration’s policy of not going to war with a world superpower like China, but suggested that the administration should take steps to prevent the supposed harassment from happening, which would help these fishermen who are facing danger on a daily basis.
“Let us not plan or have a strategy to go to war with China. [Instead] put in place a strategy, a defensive one, or even a passive one, sort of guidelines to our fishermen on what to do,” Alejano said, urging the government to create rules of engagement and make contingency actions.
“Alam mo ‘pag hi-narass sila doon, pagbalik sa pampang hindi na nila alam anong gagawin,” he added.
(You know, when they are harassed in the waters, upon their return to the shore, they no longer know what to do.)
Alejano also claimed that after the fishermen and their boats appear on interviews from different news organizations, the Chinese Coast Guard would intensify its harassment as they can monitor the situation in the Philippines.
“‘Pag lumabas sila sa media at makita ‘yong bow number ng kanilang bangka, pagbalik nila sa laot, lalo silang i-harass ng Chinese, kasi minomonitor ng Chinese kung sinong mga magsusumbong na mangingisda,” Alejano said.
(When they reported everything to the media and notice the bow number of the boat, the Chinese will harass them the more because they monitor and know the fishermen who would be reporting all of these.)
“‘Yon ang masaklap na sitwasyon ng ating mga mangingisda. Wala silang mapuntahan [This is the sad fate of our fishermen, they have nothing else to go],” he added. /jpv
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.