Duterte tells China to probe complaints of PH fishermen
President Rodrigo Duterte skipped diplomatic channels and went directly to Ambassador Zhao Jianhua to relay to China his concerns over the confiscation of Filipino fishermen’s catch by Chinese coast guards at Panatag Shoal, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Wednesday.
Speaking in a radio interview about the discussion between Mr. Duterte and Zhao during Independence Day rites in Kawit, Cavite province, on Tuesday, Roque said that given the chance, the President would have gone directly to Chinese President Xi Jinping to remind him that they had an agreement on free access by Filipinos to Panatag Shoal.
The President told Zhao that China should investigate the Filipino fishermen’s complaints against the Chinese coast guards, Roque said.
“The President said everything should be done to stop this kind of situation,” he added.
Probe going on
Zhao told reporters in Kawit on Tuesday that the fishermen’s complaints were being investigated and that China would “discipline” the erring coast guards.
He said initial investigation by both sides showed that what was going on at Panatag Shoal was some sort of “barter trade,” with the Filipino fishermen exchanging fish for goods carried by the Chinese coast guards in the area.
Assistant Foreign Secretary Elmer Cato traveled to Infanta, Pangasinan province, on Wednesday and met with about a hundred fishermen from the villages of Cato, Bayambang, Poblacion, Patima and Batang for a discussion of the problem.
Not all are complaining
It appeared that while there were fishermen who were protesting the coast guards’ behavior, there were others who willingly dealt with the Chinese.
A fishing boat skipper accused some fishermen of bartering their fish for Chinese wine and cigarettes.
Cato village captain Charlito Maniago said some fishermen would hide their high-value catch as the Chinese approached but others just gave up their fish and “they never complained.”
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