China’s increased aggression may be result of 'gentleman’s deal'

China’s increased aggression may be result of ‘gentleman’s deal’ — solon

By: - Reporter / @FArgosinoINQ
/ 05:09 PM May 24, 2024

MASINLOC, Zambales — China’s increased aggression in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) could be a result of the alleged gentleman’s agreement between former President Rodrigo Duterte and Beijing within the disputed waters, according to Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel.

Pimentel shared his opinion on the matter before other lawmakers present during a public consultation and a joint hearing here in the province held by the House committees on national defense and security and WPS.

READ: ‘Even Zambales fishermen hit by China water cannon assault’


“Tinitignan nating anggulo lahat ng resource person ay nagsasabing wala naman po (gentleman’s agreement), pero sa galaw ng Chinese government ngayon na grabe talaga nagpapadala ng ilang barko,” the lawmaker said.


(We are looking into this angle; although all the resource persons are saying that there was no gentleman’s agreement, based on the Chinese government’s actions, it seems like there is, since they are really sending ships there.)

“This could be a result of the gentleman’s agreement that the Chinese ambassador was talking about,” he added, referring to former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s revelation in the previous hearing.

Lorenzana revealed that Huang Xilian had mentioned a gentleman’s agreement on the Ayungin Shoal since 2021.

Fisherfolk’s lament

According to grievances aired by fishermen from Masinloc and Sta. Cruz, they, along with fisherfolk from Subic, experienced a series of water cannon attacks from the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) back in 2018.

In 2018, Leonardo Cuaresma, spokesperson for fisherfolk in Zambales and a member of the New Masinloc Fishermen Association, said the CCG rammed from behind a vessel manned by Subic fishermen in Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal.


“Maaring nagkaroon na ng gentleman’s agreement between the past administration and Chinese government, kaya na-e-engganyo at naging agresibo mula noong panahon ni Pres. Duterte,” Pimentel reiterated.

(It could be that a gentleman’s agreement was formed between the past administration and the Chinese government, which is why China became more aggressive starting from Duterte’s term.)

But fisherman Joffrey Elad claimed to have peacefully conducted livelihood activities in the area during the Duterte administration until May this year, when the attacks against them became “more aggressive.”

Contrary to this, Zambales 2nd District Rep. Doris Maniquiz disclosed that Masinloc and Sta. Cruz fisherfolk indeed experienced a series of water cannon attacks from CCG just last week and in February, respectively.

She described that the vessels attacked by the CCG were used for deep-sea fishing with 25 to 35 fishermen and crew on board.

The lawmaker added that the CCG’s presence in the West Philippine Sea affected the livelihoods of around 1,000 fishermen from Masinloc and 400 from Sta. Cruz.

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Echoing the fisherfolk sentiments, Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said that government aid is just a band-aid solution and the lower chamber is already studying policies pushing for their rights in the WPS.

TAGS: China, gentleman's agreement

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