Alejano: China's taking of Filipino catch shows mismatch between reality, gov't statements
Rep. Gary Alejano said that the reported taking of Filipinos' catch on the Scarborough Shoal showed the mismatch between the government's word and the realities on the ground.
AP/Bullit Marquez, File

Alejano: China's taking of Filipino catch shows mismatch between reality, gov't statements

Audrey Morallo (Philstar.com) - June 8, 2018 - 4:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — The reported taking by the Chinese of the catch of Filipino fishermen on the Scarborough Shoal shows that there is a mismatch between the statements of the government and the realities on the ground, an opposition lawmaker said.

In a statement, Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) said that the report by GMA News that stated that China's coast guard was taking some of the catch of Filipinos on Scarborough Shoal proved his point that local fishermen were at the mercy of Chinese forces in the waters.

"This is another proof that what the administration is saying does not match the realities on the ground. They are again deceiving the Filipino people," Alejano said.

In a report by GMA News, China's coast guard were seen asking for fish from Filipinos and went aboard their vessel and opened the containers of their catch.

The coast guard personnel took away the Filipinos' catch, most especially the best ones.

The presidential palace said that it was already authenticating the video and getting the statements of the fishermen, adding that it would file a protest if the veracity of the incident is established.

In a congressional hearing last month on the developments in the South China Sea, Alejano said that Chinese forces were still harassing Filipino fishermen and were taking their best catch.

This was contradictory to statements made by Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano during the same hearing that Filipinos were already free to sail in the disputed seas.

"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 last month.

The lawmaker, a former Marine officer, stressed that fishermen should not be harassed by China on the Scarborough Shoal as this was declared by a United Nations-backed tribunal as a traditional fishing ground.

"The Chinese Coast Guard is acting much like pirates bypassing small Filipino fishermen and stealing their catch," he said, stressing that China, if it were really a friend of the Philippines', should not be treating Filipinos this way.

"China does not seem to treat us as a sovereign equal anymore," he said.

Alejano said that the government should sympathize with the plight of fishermen in the region.

"Their effort and expenses are wasted if the Chinese would just get their good catch," he said.

He also urged the government to show that it was fulfilling its mandate to earn the trust of the public.

"Trust is earned and we have to see that they are doing something. If not, this only means that the Duterte administration has left Filipinos on their own," he said.

The Philippines, China and a handful of other nations have overlapping claims to the South China Sea, which is believed to hold vast reserves of natural gas and resources.

Annually, around $3 trillion worth of trade passes through the waters where tensions have risen in recent months because of China's increasing militarization of the dispute.

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