Gordon urges gov’t to protest harassment of PH fishermen
Senator Richard Gordon on Sunday condemned China’s harassment of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, saying this behavior is making it difficult for the Philippines to be friends with Beijing.
Gordon prodded the Duterte administration to protest the reported incidents in the disputed waters.
Fishermen complained that members of the Chinese coast guard patrolling the disputed territory took their best catch in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).
“We are freedom-loving people. These are marginalized people. Why are you doing this to the poor people who are just trying to make a living. This is what makes being friends with China nowadays difficult,” Gordon said in a statement.
The senator also noted that a Chinese helicopter hovered over a Philippine military rubber boat during a resupply mission in the Ayungin Shoal.
Gordon said China should exercise “extreme control” over their forces that conduct patrol activities in the area, which is a common fishing ground for all claimant states.
“The actions of the Chinese coast guard are more like the mulcting practices of rogue law enforcers victimizing helpless people,” he said in statement.
“They are no different from the pirates of the olden times who prey (on) helpless victims,” he added.
But foreign affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that the Philippines and China have agreed that fishermen can freely navigate the disputed South China Sea.
The secretary said fishermen should be free to fish in the West Philippine Sea except in marine protected areas.
His statement comes after a video aired on GMA-7 showed members of China’s coast guard boarding the boats of Filipino fishermen reportedly to grab their catch on Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal).
We have an agreement (with China) that fishermen should be free,” he said.
Cayetano said that Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua has assured the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that violators will be apprehended.
“The Chinese Ambassador has assured us that they will apply the law very harshly to the violators,” Cayetano told reporters at the airport after welcoming at least 100 distressed migrant workers from the United Arab Emirates.
Cayetano did not specify which law he was referring to.
While he thanked the media for exposing the alleged harassment incident, Cayetano expressed doubts on Congressmen Gary Alejano’s assertion that members of the Chinese coast guard continually harass Filipino fishermen by taking their best catch.
He said it’s likely that Filipino fishermen were selling or bartering their best catch right at the sea.
Cayetano urged Filipinos to directly report harassment incidents to the DFA “so we can act on it right away.”
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