MALACAÑANG yesterday said it was still verifying reports that Chinese coast guards have been harassing Filipino fishermen in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and even taking away their catch.
As reported by GMA News on Thursday, recent video footage showed Chinese men taking fish from Filipinos fishing in the waters around the disputed Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on Friday said the Palace has already asked for written statements from the Filipino fishermen, but added that the video still remained “inconclusive.”
Roque, in a text message yesterday said there were still no developments on the incident, but added: “(We are) verifying still.”
Several Filipino fishermen have alleged that the Chinese Coast Guard had made a habit of taking their catch, as reported by Jun Veneracion on GMA News’ 24 Oras and shown on Reporter’s Notebook.
“Wala silang paalam. Halungkatin nila ‘yun, basta maghalungkat sila, sir. Kukunin nila ‘yung gusto nila. Ilagay nila sa plastic, magaganda pa ang kunin nila,” one of the fishermen complained.
The United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration delivered in July 2016 a victory to the Philippines on the case it had filed against China, after the tribunal declared as illegal the superpower’s claim over nearly the entire South China Sea through the controversial “Nine Dash Line.”
It also declared that Beijing violated the rights of Filipinos when the latter were blocked from fishing in the Scarborough shoal, which is a traditional fishing ground within the 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, temporarily set aside the ruling to avoid a confrontation with China, but vowed to raise it at the right time during his presidency.