PH Coast Guard confirms Filipino fishermen harassed by China
MANILA, Philippines – Is China harassing Filipino fishermen yet again?
Malacañang on Monday, April 20, confirmed that fishermen were again driven away by Chinese coast guard personnel using water cannons, when the fishermen approached disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has verified and confirmed the reported incident involving fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc. However, the actual number of fishermen has not been verified,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a statement.
“The PCG has sent its reports to the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense.”
He did not give any other details.
Reports say that in early April, a Chinese coast guard vessel used water cannons against Filipino fishermen who were fishing in Scarborough Shoal also known as Bajo de Masinloc in the Philippines – a free fishing zone that the Chinese took over in 2012. Fishermen were also reportedly chased away by Chinese personnel carrying guns and aboard rubber boats.
The incident comes as China continues its aggressive reclamation activities in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, where they are currently constructing an airstrip.
This is not the first time that Filipino fishermen have been harassed by the Chinese.
In February last year, the DFA said “China has done this for at least 10 times since 2013.” The DFA also filed two protest notes against China in February this year, for ramming 3 Filipino vessels and collecting giant clams at the contested shoal.
Following the incident, the DFA urged China not to harm Filipino fishermen traversing the disputed waters, as many of them only seek shelter in the disputed shoal from harsh weather. – Rappler.com