Recto: If harassing fisherfolk a sport, China will sweep Asian games
After China installs floating barriers near Scarborough shoal

Recto: If harassing fisherfolk a sport, China will sweep Asian games

/ 02:21 PM September 25, 2023

China should sweep all medals in the Asian Games if harassing fisherfolk were a sport, Batangas 6th District Rep. Ralph Recto said on Monday after the Asian superpower placed floating barriers near Scarborough shoal.

Batangas Rep. Ralph Recto. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — China should sweep all medals in the Asian Games if harassing fisherfolk were a sport, Batangas 6th District Rep. Ralph Recto said on Monday after the Asian superpower placed floating barriers near Scarborough shoal.

Recto in a statement said that China’s move to fence waters off Scarborough shoal — as revealed by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Sunday — is detrimental to Filipinos since local fisherfolk are not allowed to fish in the area.


Ironically though, the lawmaker claimed that China is the Philippines’ top source of imported fish, accounting for 32.92 percent or one-third of the country’s fish supply — valued at US$247 million.


“If harassing fishermen were a water sports in the Asian Games, China will sweep all the medals.  It treats the entire WPS as its exclusive practice area. And it has fenced off Bajo de Masinloc, claiming it as a backyard fishpond, and declaring it off limits to its true owners — the Filipinos,” Recto said.

“Some of the fish it feeds its 1.412 billion citizens are poached from Philippine waters, vacuum-cleaned from our rich reefs.  The value of this stolen fish is in the billions of pesos, not annually, but monthly,” he added.

According to Recto, this represents a dangerous trend especially as China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) has brought the area’s share to the national fisheries’ production down to seven percent — significantly lower than the expected 30 percent contribution.

“Because of this Chinese blockade, share of our fish catch in the WPS, according to BFAR, has dwindled to 7 percent of total national fisheries production.  Chinese constriction of WPS cripples a pillar of our food security, as that area contributes almost 30% of commercial fisheries output,” he said.

“And as we grapple with fish shortage, partly due to the fact that our access to WPS has been denied, we resort to imports.  And the painful irony is that we buy fish from China – the very source of our discontent,” she added.

The actions from China can be considered a food blockade against the Philippines, Recto said.


“China must be called out for what it is really doing in the WPS: a food blockade that is a crime against humanity,” he added.

According to the PCG, the Chinese Coast Guard installed a floating barrier around 300 meters southeast of Scarborough shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag shoal, allegedly meant to prevent Filipino fishing boats from entering the area and conducting fishing activities.

PCG spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela said PCG and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) personnel were able to witness and videotape Chinese Coast Guard placing the barrier.

Several Senators including Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri have condemned the Chinese Coast Guard’s actions, asking the PCG to immediately remove the barriers.

Scarborough shoal is located 124 nautical miles from Zambales’ coast line, which means that it is well within the country’s exclusive economic zone which stretches 200 nautical mile off its shores.

In contrast, the nearest coast of China is 472 nautical miles away from Scarborough.

READ: Fast Facts: Panatag Shoal 

Prioritize fisherfolk

ACT Teachers party-list rep. France Castro meanwhile asked the government to prioritize the Filipino fisherfolk’s welfare, as people living near Scarborough shoal have long suffered from China’s aggressive actions.

Since China became more aggressive in asserting its claims over the WPS, a lot of fisherfolk from Zambales have avoided fishing in the area due to fears that the Chinese Coast Guard would harass them.

“The Philippine government must prioritize the welfare and well-being of our fishermen. We must ensure that they can freely and safely access Scarborough Shoal, as well as other traditional fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea,”Castro said.

“Our fishermen are not pawns in a geopolitical game. They deserve our full support and protection. We stand in solidarity with them and demand that China immediately remove these barriers, allowing our fishermen to exercise their rights and livelihood without hindrance,” she added.

READ: Zambales fishers abandon ‘dangerous’ Scarborough Shoal 

Castro also aired the same sentiments as Recto — that China is depriving Filipinos of resources that rightfully belongs to the Philippines.

“The installation of these barriers is a clear display of China’s aggressive and expansionist actions in the West Philippine Sea. It is a deliberate attempt to assert dominance and control over the maritime resources that rightfully belong to the Filipino people,” she said.

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“Our fishermen have been fishing in Scarborough Shoal for generations, relying on it for their sustenance and livelihood. By obstructing their access, China is not only depriving them of their right to earn a living but also undermining our national sovereignty,” she added.

TAGS: China, Recto, West Philippine Sea

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