Scarborough fishermen: Increased PCG presence may raise tension

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Rommel Sihuela, Jurie Drio, and Delfin Igana – all fishermen in Scarborough Shoal – were presented by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during the June 11 press briefing in Malacañang. The fishermen said one of the main issues they want to be resolved is Chinese Coast Guard (CGC) personnel asking for their catch.

They also said that they are alright with Philippines only conducting intelligence gathering mission to Scarborough than increasing presence of Philippine government ships in Scarborough that according to them may just raise tension.

Sihuela said that from 2012 Filipino fishermen were being prohibited by Chinese Coast Guard to operate in Scarborough Shoal. However, around November-December 2017 they were again allowed to fish in Scarborough.

Sihuela said they are asking the Philippine government to tell the Chinese government to prohibit CGC personnel from taking their catch.

“Sa ngayon po, halos lahat ng ano na dito sa Subic, Bataan, Zambales, Pangasinan, okay nang nakakapangisda ngayon doon. Ang nagkaka-problema sa amin, iyon nga iyong humihingi ng isda sa amin iyong Chinese Coast Guard. Kumbaga, ang gusto lang naming ipaabot sa ating gobyerno, kumbaga limitahan sila na lalapit doon sa amin, iyong manghihingi ng isda,” Sihuela said.

Sihuela also said that for now they are alright with Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Philippine Navy conducting intelligence gathering mission only. He said increased presence of PCG in Scarborough Shoal might again trigger tension.

“Okay na iyong intelligence iyong pumupunta doon. Kasi minsan may pumupuntang mga Coast Guard, Navy, parang intelligence na lang iyon, kumukuha na lang ng mga balita doon kung ano ang nangyayari,” he said. “Kasi kung magkaroon man ng ano siguro… ng mayroon tayong Navy diyan at saka Philippine Coast Guard parang palagay ko parang madali iyong pag-ano, kung hindi man magkakaintindihan, kumbaga sa ano, mayroong isang bangka na nilapitan nila. Eh ngayon ayaw magbigay, ngayon sapilitan ding kukuha ng isda, di ibig sabihin iyong bangka na iyon, pupunta doon sa Philippine Coast Guard, magsumbong doon, eh iyon ang ginagawa nila doon sa amin. Siyempre ano ang gagawin doon sa pinagsumbungan na Coast Guard, di doon magkagirian na naman.”

Roque said the government is working to address the issue of taking fishermen catch by CGC personnel.

“The DFA has communicated with the Chinese Ambassador. We are not taking this sitting down. Our position po… ang posisyon natin dahil mayroong mga usapin sa panig ni President Xi at ni President Duterte na mayroon ng kalayaang mangisda diyan sa ‘Borough ni isang kilo hindi dapat nangunguha ang Chinese Coast Guard at hindi tayo pumapayag sa ganito,” Roque said.

“Kaya po nagreklamo tayo sa bansang Tsina at inaasahan natin na gagawa ng kinaukulang hakbang ang Tsina para matigil ito ‘no,” the Presidential Spokesperson said.

Source: https://pcoo.gov.ph/press_briefing/press-briefing-of-presidential-spokesperson-harry-roque-17/