‘Even Zambales fishermen hit by China water cannon assault’

China sending huge force in Scarborough ahead of civilian mission — expert

This frame grab from handout video footage taken and released on April 30, 2024 by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) shows the Philippine Coast Guard ship BRP Bagacay (C) being hit by water cannon from Chinese coast guard vessels near the Chinese-controlled Scarborough shoal in disputed waters of the South China Sea. The Philippines said the China Coast Guard fired water cannon on April 30 at two of its vessels, causing damage to one of them, during a patrol near a reef off the Southeast Asian country. (Photo by Handout / Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) / AFP)

BOTOLAN, Zambales — Fishermen in Masinloc and Sta. Cruz , Zambales also experienced a series of water cannon attacks from the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) while fishing in Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), a lawmaker said on Thursday. 

Zambales 2nd District Rep. Doris Maniquiz disclosed that this was revealed to her by fisherfolk from both municipalities in the province amid reports of continued harassment faced by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the area. 

“Mas drama yung kanila dahil talagang ilan beses daw talaga siya kinakanyon hanggang nasisira na yung bangka nila so since huminto na ang Sta Cruz pero ang Masinloc malalakas ang loob tuloy tuloy pa rin sila minsan hinaharang sila minsan nakakalusot,” Maniquiz told reporters in an ambush interview in Botolan, Zambales.

(Sta. Cruz fisherfolk had a more dramatic experience because they were water cannoned several times until their boat was destroyed. The attack has forced them to stop fishing. But Masinloc fishermen are more resilient, even though they were attacked several times. Sometimes they were blocked, sometimes they were able to get through.)

Based on her description, the vessels attacked by the CCG were used for deep-sea fishing with 25 to 35 fishermen and crew on board.

Maniquiz said Masinloc fisherfolk held their latest attempt to fish in the area last week, while those from Sta. Cruz already halted their fishing activities around February this year.  

The lawmaker likewise disclosed that the livelihood of around 1,400 fishermen was affected by the CCG’s presence in the West Philippine Sea — 1,000 from Masinloc and 400 from Sta. Cruz. 

INQUIRER.net has sought the side of PCG for a comment but it has yet to reply as of posting time. 

Maniquiz said the fishermen are already requesting the national government provide them with deep sea payao, fishing gear, and post-harvest equipment to help them catch fish without going to the area. 

Last April 30, the CCG once again used water cannons against two Philippine vessels conducting a mission in the Scarborough Shoal. 

According to the PCG, the CCG used “very fatal” water cannon pressure in the latest attack, which marked China’s increased aggression against Filipino vessels in the WPS. 

Aside from its continued harassment, media reports revealed on May 16 that China approved a new policy authorizing its coast guard to detain foreigners deemed “illegally crossing” what it called “its borders without trial,” which would take effect on June 15. 

The new rule came after a civilian-led convoy launched by the Atin Ito (This is Ours) Coalition sailed and reached about 50 nautical miles from the Scarborough Shoal on May 14.

The supply mission concluded on May 16, and the vessel returned to Subic Port on May 17.