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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Saturday, January 21, that it is investigating an incident involving a Chinese coast guard vessel (CCGV) that allegedly shooed away a Filipino fishing boat in Ayungin Shoal earlier in January.
On Friday, January 20, Filipino fishing boat (FFB) Ken-Ken boat captain Lito Al-os reported to the PCG that CCGV 5204 allegedly drove them away while they were fishing in vicinity waters off Ayungin Shoal on January 9.
In the report, CCGV 5204 was said to have maneuvered towards the fishing boat around 800 yards away, and deployed a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB). The China Coast Guard personnel onbaord the RHIB gestured for the Filipino fishermen to leave the area.
This prompted FFB Ken-Ken to alter its course and depart Ayungin Shoal.
But, according to the PCG, CCGV 5204 continued to shadow FFB Ken-Ken towards Boxall Reef.
Upon receiving the report, PCG Task Force Pag-asa “immediately” deployed additional Coast Guard vessels to strengthen presence in the West Philippine Sea.
“This is to protect the interest and ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen who conduct fishing operations in the said vicinity waters as their source of livelihood,” the PCG said.
As of Saturday afternoon, the PCG said it is collecting evidence and more information that will be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
“If deemed necessary, the DFA may use the said report in filing an appropriate diplomatic action,” the PCG said.
Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu assured the concerned Filipino fishermen that the PCG “remains steadfast in its commitment to uphold rules-based approaches in protecting their welfare and securing the country’s exclusive economic zones at all costs.”
Reports of the China Coast Guard harassing Filipino fishermen – and even Philippine government vessels – in the West Philippine Sea are not new.
In November 2021, three Chinese coast guard vessels were documented blocking and using water cannons on Philippine boats en route to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, drawing international outrage. The Philippine ships are resupply boats that transport food supplies to military personnel assigned in the maritime feature, which belongs to the Philippines.
This has been happening years after the Philippines won the arbitration case it lodged against China in 2016, striking down China’s nine-dash line claim to the West Philippine Sea.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has vowed to uphold the country’s landmark arbitral award.
His predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, who maintained close ties with China, spoke erratically about the Hague ruling, swinging from vowing to protect the Hague ruling and Filipino fishermen, to likening the award to mere paper he would throw in the trash. – Rappler.com