A youth movement has urged the Filipino youth to help preserve water bodies in the country, with the fight to push for the rights of Filipino fishermen to resources in the West Philippine Sea at the forefront of the campaign.
“Dapat tayo mismong mga Filipino yung nakakatanggap ng mga natural na yaman ng ating bansa. Tulungan natin ang mangingisdang Pilipino na magkaroon ng lugar para sa kanilang pagkakakitaan. (Filipinos should be the ones who should benefit from the Philippines’ natural resources. Let us unite in helping Filipino fishermen have a safe place for their livelihood),” Jericho Quidez said in a documentary.
Quidez is among the 100 youths who were part of the pioneering batch of the Kabataang Makadagat created in October 2020.
The group cited the crucial role of the youth in the fight to claim Scarborough, also known as Panatag shoal.
In the documentary “Ang Batang Anak Ng Dagat”, Quidez said his father was last seen on Sept. 30, 2012 along with eight of his colleagues when they sailed to catch fish in Panatag.
It was in the same year when the Philippines lost control of Scarborough shoal off Zambales province after a standoff against China.
“Bata pa ako, nakakain kami ng lobster dala ni Papa galing siyang mangisda sa Scarborough. May nahuhuli din sila sa Panatag. Doon ko nasabi na kaya naman pala ng normal na pamilyang Pilipino na makatikim ng ganito, sagana talaga ang yamang dagat doon. (When I was younger, my father would bring home lobster after fishing at Scarborough. That’s when I realized that even normal Filipino families can have it for dinner, that our water resources are bountiful),” he shared.
However, his father, along with other fishermen, were not able to return home.
The weather went rough after some days when the group sailed.
“Before, ang Panatag Shoal pinupuntahan ng mga mangingisda (Filipino) kapag masama ang panahon kasi nga banayad ang alon doon kahit may bagyo kaya sya tinawag na panatag. Paikot kasi yung island. Pero nagstart talaga noong 2012, grabe na yung ginagawang bullying sa kanila. Binobomba na sila ng tubig ng mga Chinese coast guards at hinaharang na yung pagpasok nila sa shoal (When things were fine, Filipino fishermen would find refuge in Panatag shoal during storms because the water is calm, that’s why it gained the name “panatag” [tranquil, undisturbed]. The island is like shape of a horse shoe. But in 2012, bullying intensified. Chinese coast guards would point water guns at them and they would block the passage to the shoal, their safe haven),” he added.
The group has sought recommendation for the creation of Kabataang Makadagat and suggested that it should be a nationwide movement – an organization that fights and protects the marine ecology and treasures of the Philippine archipelago. PNA.GOV.PH