Phl fishing boat harassed by Chinese coast guard
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - August 19, 2014 - 12:00am

AYUNGIN SHOAL, Kalayaan, Palawan , Philippines   – A Chinese coast guard vessel harassed a small fishing boat carrying local officials and journalists on their way to Pag-Asa Island in Palawan on the night of Aug. 1.

The Chinese vessel, with body number CCG 3111, made hostile maneuvers around ML Shanina – a single-engine, wooden-hulled motorboat – while the vessel was seeking shelter from bad weather. The boat was carrying Pag-Asa Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. and journalists from Asahi TV and Asahi Shimbun, dzRH and this reporter.

The Chinese vessel’s threatening moves sent the passengers of the fishing boat reaching for life vests and floaters.

The trip was arranged by freelance foreign news producer Arlene Samson-Espiritu for the foreign journalists.

The Shanina had been sailing the rough waters for more than 24 hours after lifting anchor at mainland Palawan when it encountered the Chinese vessel near the southern entrance of Ayungin shoal.

Flooding the small vessel with its powerful floodlights while blowing its horn, the coast guard ship then signaled the small boat to return to the open sea despite the bad weather.

“Coast guard ships are supposed to assist and help vessels in distress while in the open sea. Why are they doing this? This is a clear violation of the coast guards’ international mandate,” Bito-onon said.

The boat was piloted by Hija Sadalani. With him were assistant boat skipper Habsari Hardon and boat operator Haji Pasi Abdulpatah. They were actively helping the local government transport supplies to islands coveted by the Chinese.

“We are doing this because we don’t want to lose our rich fishing grounds to China,” said Abdulpatah, whose group, called the “Bangkalaan boys,” has been bravely playing cat and mouse with Chinese vessels.

The Chinese boat disengaged only after the fishing boat reached a shallow portion of a shoal. The chase lasted about 30 minutes.

The boat’s skipper decided to spend the night in the area due to bad weather.

The next morning, Aug 2, the Shanina lifted anchor and sailed slowly toward the BRP Sierra Madre, where Marines under the command of 2Lt. Salacudin Migedia gave a warm welcome.

A CHINESE ARLENE SAMSON-ESPIRITU ASAHI SHIMBUN BOAT CHINESE HABSARI HARDON HAJI PASI ABDULPATAH HIJA SADALANI PALAWAN SHANINA
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