Zubiri to PCG: Dismantle China’s floating barrier in PH’s Bajo de Masinloc
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has requested the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to “immediately cut and remove” the floating barrier installed by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) in Bajo de Masinloc, purportedly preventing Filipino fishing boats from entering and conducting fishing activities within the area.
Based on the video posted on PCG’s Facebook page early Sunday, the agency’s personnel and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources members witnessed the installation of an approximately 300-meter-long barrier on the southeast portion of the shoal last September 22.
“First of all, they have no right to put any structures within our Exclusive Economic Zone, and secondly, these structures pose a danger to passing fishing boats that can get entangled on the lines and cause considerable damage to the propellers and engines of our fisherfolk,” Zubiri said in a statement on Sunday.
“Therefore, I would like to request our Philippine Coast Guard to immediately cut and remove all these illegal structures located in our West Philippine Sea not just to assert our sovereign rights to the area but to protect our fishermen from any possible accidents that may arise from these illegal structures,” he added.
Aside from placing the barrier, PCG also reported that four CCG vessels initiated 15 radio challenges to drive away the boats of Filipino fishermen and the BFAR vessel.
BFAR answered every radio call, as it emphasized that they were carrying out a routine patrol within the territorial sea of Bajo de Masinloc. PCG said CCG vessels only backed away upon noticing the presence of media personnel onboard the BFAR vessel.
Zubiri said the Senate stands by PCG, commending the agency for “its untiring and unwavering commitment to watch and protect the areas within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zones and Bajo de Masinloc is well within our 12NM territory.”
Senator Francis Tolentino backed Zubiri’s call to remove the barrier, pointing out that only the Philippines could install these devices within the shoal to contain an oil spill, among others.
“Sangayon po ako na tanggalin ang floating barrier dahil bawal mag lagay ng palatandaan na ito ay “restricted zone”, at ang Pilipinas lang ang pwedeng maglagay nito kung merong oil spill o bahagi ng aquaculture management as a temporaray measure,” Tolentino said in a separate statement.
(I favor removing the floating barrier because it is forbidden to put up a sign that this is a “restricted zone,” and only the Philippines can put it up if there is an oil spill or part of aquaculture management as a temporary measure.)
“Ang Bajo de Masinloc ay 120 nautical miles lamang buhat Zambales at ang mga mangingisda natin ay hindi dapat pahirapan ng China na mangisda sa sarili nating bakuran.Labag sa international law ang paglalagay ng China ng floating barrier at ito ay dapat maalis kaagad. Tama ang ginawa ng PCG na alalayan ang ating mga mangingisda,” he added.
(Bajo de Masinloc is only 120 nautical miles from Zambales, and China should not make it hard for our fishermen to fish in our territory. China’s installation of a floating barrier is against international law; it should be removed immediately. PCG did the right thing in supporting our fishermen.)
For her part, Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed concern for local fisherfolk’s safety as she called on the current administration to review the national policy when it comes to dealing with China.
“China’s cruelty knows no bounds. Napakawalang hiya na agresibo nilang hinaharangan ang ating mangingisda sa sarili nating karagatan,” Hontiveros said in another statement.
(Their aggressive act to block our fishermen in our waters is too brazen.)
“Hindi tayo papayag na patayin sa gutom ng Tsina ang ating mga mamamayan. I trust that the Philippine Coast Guard can escort our fisherfolk and ensure that they pass through the floating barriers. Muli din akong nanawagan sa kasalukuyang administrayon na suriin na ang national policy natin pagdating sa Tsina,” she added.
(We will not allow China to starve our citizens. I trust that the Philippine Coast Guard can escort our fishermen and ensure they pass through the floating barriers. I again call on the current administration to review our national policy regarding China.)