Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano have opposing views on the state of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
Senate PRIB, File | AP/Aaron Favila, File
Cayetano hails fishermen's access to West Philippine Sea; Alejano questions continued harassment
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - May 30, 2018 - 12:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano have conflicting takes on the state of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

While the country's top diplomat said that Filipino fishermen can now sail freely, the Magdalo lawmaker revealed that the fishermen still experience harassment from the Chinese.

Cayetano, in a briefing at the House of Representatives, said that it is a gain for the Philippines under the Duterte administration that local fishermen are allowed to fish in the disputed seas.

"There is still slight harassment but in the past it was total harassment. Before, our ships cannot enter but now they can access the maritime environmental protection area," Cayetano told the House panel.

While Cayetano sees "slight harassment" as an improvement, it remains a point of contention for Alejano.

Alejano agreed that Filipino fishermen now have access to Scarborough Shoal but their activities are limited.

"In fact, when they fish there, their catch are being inspected and the best fish are being taken away from them there. If you are a fisherman, your time is wasted, your effort is wasted," Alejano said.

The Magdalo lawmaker also questioned the "red line" that the Philippines imposed on China not to encroach on Scarborough Shoal.

"I don't believe that we have control over there because they (China) are now controlling Scarborough Shoal so how can you say that we have control?" Alejano said.

Earlier this week, Cayetano said that the Philippines has identified actions that would be considered unacceptable in the South China Sea amid the maritime dispute between the two countries.

Aside from the Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines also warned China against attempting to remove the Philippine Navy ship anchored near Ayungin Shoal.

According to Cayetano, President Rodrigo Duterte would be willing to wage a war against Beijing if they break these conditions.

"That's what the president said. If anyone gets the natural resources in the West Philippine Sea-South China Sea, he will go to war. He said: 'Bahala na.' He will go to war. So those were our red lines," Cayetano said last Monday.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO GARY ALEJANO SCARBOROUGH SHOAL SOUTH CHINA SEA
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