Filipino fisherman’s harassment by China Coast Guard prompts call for more PH patrols in West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines—A member of a left-wing bloc in Congress called for heavier deployment of Philippine Coast Guard vessels to Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the West Philippine Sea after a Filipino fisherman narrated he was barred from entering traditional fishing grounds by a China Coast Guard ship.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the ordeal of Filipino fisherman Larry Hugo, a fisherman from the town of Kalayaan in the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa, was “condemnable.”
“We are again calling for more Philippine Coast Guard vessels to be deployed in the area,” said Zarate. “We should also encourage our fishermen to actively report the presence of Chinese vessels, said the member of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives in a statement on Wednesday (Jan. 27).
Hugo, who had been fishing around Pag-asa for more than 10 years, said he was blocked from going to one of the sandbars near the island by a China Coast Guard ship on Monday (Jan. 25). In a video posted on social media, Hugo said he also saw other Chinese vessels stationed in the area, which were likely militia boats that analysts said China uses in asserting its baseless claims of ownership of the area.
Zarate warned that China’s aggression “will level up even more” because the Philippine military and defense establishment are “shamelessly preoccupied now with baseless red-tagging against just anybody it perceives as its enemies.”
This, he said, makes the government “oblivious to the incursions and harassment being done by the Chinese against our fisherfolk.”
Authorities had said they were still verifying Hugo’s account.
Zarate said the government should push for joint patrols with other claimant states like Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei “because this can become a bigger deterrent to China’s plans.”
He said activists, the opposition and critics of the administration are being considered as threats to security “but the aggressive actions of imperialist countries like China and the US” were being swept aside.
“The Duterte administration should stop red-tagging and spreading fake news,” Zarate said. “It should focus on increasing harassment of China against our fishermen and invasion of our territory,” he said.
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