Philippines says fishermen still blocked from Scarborough Shoal


Fishermen take a break after returning from a fishing trip in the South China Sea, on the shores of Infanta town, Pangasinan province, northwest of Manila, Philippines July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Fishermen take a break after returning from a fishing trip in the South China Sea, on the shores of Infanta town, Pangasinan province, northwest of Manila, Philippines July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

China’s coastguard has prevented Filipino boats from fishing around the hotly contested Scarborough Shoal, Philippine officials said on Friday, after Beijing kept a promise to ignore a court ruling voiding its vast South China Sea claims.

A dispute over the shoal, 124 nautical miles northwest of the Philippines mainland was one of Manila’s main reasons for bringing international legal action against China in 2013.

Military officials and fishermen in northwest province of Pangasinan said Chinese coastguard vessels remained in place at Scarborough and were still preventing fishermen from entering the shoal’s lagoon.

Many boats had stayed away until the situation was clearer, officials said.

“The fishermen here have a wait-and-see attitude and are feeling their pulse whether it is safe to go to Scarborough,” Luis Madarang, an official responsible for fishing in Infanta town, said by phone.

“We are not stopping them but cautioned them to stay away from any trouble in the area. It will not help the situation if they will challenge the Chinese who are still there.”

A local television crew joined a fishing boat to try to reach the Scarborough Shoal in what a news anchor said was fishermen testing China’s compliance of the ruling on Thursday.

Footage from ABS-CBN news showed a handful of black-clad Chinese coastguard on a dinghy approaching the Filipino boat and using a megaphone to tell them to leave.

PRESSURE TO ENFORCE

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on Tuesday ruled that because it has rocks above high tide, Scarborough Shoal was entitled to 12 miles of territorial sea, although it did not say who owns it.

They acknowledged that fishermen from many nations, including the Philippines and China, have traditionally fished there said China had “unlawfully prevented” Filipino fishermen from operating their after seizing Scarborough in 2012.

Since then, Filipino fishermen have found different jobs, trawled elsewhere, or played a dangerous game of chicken with Chinese vessels which have been accused of chasing, ramming or blasting them with water cannon.

China refused to participate in the arbitration, saying the case was illegal, the panel lacked jurisdiction and that it had 2,000 years of history in the South China Sea.

Asked whether China was currently allowing Philippines fishermen to fish around Scarborough Shoal, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the decision of the court would have no effect on China’s South China Sea policy.

On Friday, China’s official air force microblog ran a picture of a plane flying over a reef. It did not say when or where the picture was taken, but Chinese media identified it as Scarborough Shoal.

The Pangasinan fishermen are seen by many Filipinos as victims of Chinese bullying.

Their plight has recently attracted much media attention and the government has come under pressure to help them by enforcing the court ruling. How it intends to do that is so far unclear.

“China will hold on to that shoal, for sure, and deny our fishermen access,” said a senior navy commander who has previously joined diplomatic missions to China. He declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media.

“It’s best for the government to negotiate with China.”

The court made clear that although the shoal was located within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, it would still have to share it with other countries.

But there appeared to be confusion among some fishing communities and officials about a ruling that was overwhelmingly in the Philippines’ favor.

“China is ignoring it so we will wait for our government to take action,” said Madarang, the municipal official in charge of fishing. “The shoal is 100 percent ours and we cannot share it with China.”

Elmer Madriaga, leader of a church-based group that helps fishermen in Masinloc, said it was time for China to move on.

“It belongs to us,” he said. “So we should reclaim it and hope the government finds a peaceful and diplomatic means to remove the Chinese ships.”

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Source: Reuters “Philippines says fishermen still blocked from Scarborough Shoal”

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7 Comments on “Philippines says fishermen still blocked from Scarborough Shoal”

  1. johnleecan says:

    Filipinos are overwhelming pro American. You can see it in their eyes and expression how they absolutely adore, admire and imitate the Americans. Example, when an American wrongly pronounce a word, Filipinos will imitate how they pronounce it. Yet if a Chinese or even their fellow Filipino pronounce it wrong, they will ridicule them.

    The new president wants negotiations? They will just take advantage of China. After asking them for help and China willingly offer it, you’ll see afterwards how ungrateful and traitorous these people are.

    The Philippine always use the “being bullied by China” tactic to gain sympathy. Yet, if let’s say Malaysia had a conflict with the Philippines, they will still use the being bullied tactic, but now by Malaysia.

    Filipinos like other nationalities to treat them as first world country citizens yet when you argue with them, they’ll say “we’re just a poor third world country”. An excuse even the government officials use.

    China still wants to negotiate? Filipinos are anti Chinese. They are 排华. Just like Indonesians and Vietnamese.

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    • Simon says:

      Filipinos comes to HK as economic migrants working as manual labourers and servents. Does anyone seriously belive these back water small countries created out of tribal rule and colonisation by imperial powers has an ability to actually crossed vast seas and claim islands in the SCS?

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      • Steve says:

        Tch! Tch! Tch! —- Very strong discriminative words. Hard to say, but thru their ancient and potent knowledge they could have befriended a pod of whales and somehow hitch a ride on a hump back whale and crossed the SCS.

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    • Yung-Jin says:

      I think you are being a little too bias in you depiction of the Filipinos. All societies are the same generally – you have certain percentages good, bad, clever, not so clever, scrupulous, unscrupulous, rich, poor, educated, uneducated .. etc…. Each society and culture also has its strengths and weakness, and foibles.

      Their newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte is unlike the overly pragmatic, less principled, easily corruptible by powerful figures (think U.S.), money oriented Benigno Aquino. Duterte has got the platform right when he campaigned for the post of Presidential chair which was why he got elected by a landslide margin. He is what is needed for the Philippines society which was thrown into the Wall Street mandated “law-of-the-jungle” capitalistic system favoring only the rich and powerful and unscrupulous. Since his assuming office, it is clear he knows what he is doing and his words, policy, decisions and actions are having a significant impact on his doing right to his people and country what was wrong and could continue to be wrong. It’s too early to judge or condemn anyone aspiring to prove his worth as a leader.

      I am Malaysian and I do visit the Philippines on regular basis and I am well acquainted with the Filipinos. The bulk of the Filipinos are generally simple and strives to be good and do good. I can say with confidence you are quite wrong in your sweeping assessment of the Filipino people in general. As a matter of act, your rather strong and extreme viewpoints does not reflect fairly on your own kind; Whether you are aware of it or not, what you write and say in public achieves the opposite effect and does a disservice to your own people in terms of image. Confucius used to say that a wrong word uttered even a hundred horses cannot pull it back. You have some serious thinking and introspection to do, young man.

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  2. johnleecan says:

    Filipinos can’t be trusted. Period!

    No more sharing and negotiations. No more helping the Filipinos.

    China should restrict all imports from the Philippines and ban all exports to the Philippines. Let them import made in China goods from other countries. This will not only help China but other countries who serves as middlemen for the Philippines. Filipinos will then laugh and say, “the Chinese thinks we can’t get their products but I’m fact we can import them from other countries that import from China”. Afterwards, they will give themselves a pat on their back and say they are so clever.

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  3. Simon says:

    If Filipino fishermen want to fish around Scarborough Shoal it must first recognise the territory as Chinese. Secondly it must obey Chinese law that include when and were to fish as when allowed to do so. Thirdly Filipino fishermen has to pay taxes to China for fishing there. If these conditions are met I see no reason in not allowing them to share the resource.

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