PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte yesterday said he told the Chinese on his state visit to Beijing the disputed Scarborough Shoal belongs to the Philippines and was made to understand Filipino fishermen would be allowed to fish there again.
Duterte shared the information during his visit to Tuguegarao City, Cagayan to lead the distribution of relief goods to survivors of Super Typhoon Lawin.
He said although China insisted the shoal is theirs Beijing agreed to open it to Filipino fishermen who had been barred from the area since the Chinese began implementing their nine-dash-nine territorial claim.
However, he said he was not sure if the Chinese would fulfill their promise.
Filipino fishermen will just have to wait before they can return to the shoal which is known to them as Bajo de Masinloc.
Duterte asked Filipino fishermen not to fish in the lagoon at the shoal which serve as breeding grounds for fish to avoid an imbalance in supply.
“Ako na mismo ang nagsabi na kung makabalik tayo sa Scarborough Shoal bilang may-ari -- sabi nila sila rin may-ari -- ako na mismo magsabi huwag kayo mangisda diyan -- yung parang fishpond sa dagat -- makita mo green instead of blue. ‘Yun lang pinakiusap ko para magkaroon tayo ng magandang supply,” he said.
Don’t “gamble and destroy” the breeding grounds of fish in the sea since marine products are the cheapest food Filipinos can buy in the market, he told local fishermen.
“The cheapest thing that we can buy today is the marine product. So if not to really gamble and destroy the spawning ground because then it would result in an imbalance sa ating pagkain (to our food),” he said.
Duterte also said that Xi has already asked Chinese fishermen to leave Scarborough and they appear to be gone from the shoal.
“Ang alam ko pinaalis na rin niya (Xi) ang mga Chinese na fisherman at parang wala ka nang makita diyan. ‘Yun ang pinag-usapan namin ewan ko kung tutuparin nila,” he said.