Zambales mayor asks Duterte to stop China from bullying fishermen
(philstar.com) - June 14, 2018 - 2:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — Masinloc Mayor Arsenia Lim on Thursday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to intervene and ensure the welfare of fishermen in Scarborough Shoal off the coast of Zambales.

The Municipality of Masinloc in the province of Zambales is the gateway to Scarborough Shoal — also known as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal — a traditional fishing ground for Filipino, Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen.

Local fishermen have appealed to the Philippine government to act on China's occupation of the shoal, which is well within the country's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

A 2016 ruling by an arbitral tribunal that said China's sweeping claim over the South China Sea has no legal basis — and that the government has been playing down in favor of better ties with China — did not touch on which country has sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal.

Last week, GMA News reported that Chinese Coast Guard personnel have been seizing the catch of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal, which Malacañang has confirmed but also played down.

"All we ask from our beloved president is for our countrymen to live in peace, for them to fish without being bullied, and to be able to seek shelter (in the shoal) when the waves are strong," Lim told reporters in Filipino. 

The Masinloc mayor stressed that Filipinos should not have to ask for China's permission to fish in Scarborough Shoal as it is part of the country's EEZ. 

"We shouldn't have to ask for permission, but for now, the Masinloc LGU's position is they have a right to make a living and to fish in peace," Lim said.

Meanwhile, Acting Chief Justice Antontio Carpio said that the Philippines should not accept the position of China that they are allowing Filipino fishermen to access the shoal out of goodwill.

"We cannot accept that because we have a legal right to be there. Whether goodwill or not is immaterial because the tribunal said that is our common fishing ground," Carpio told CNN Philippines' "The Source".

Carpio, a member of the Philippines' legal team in the arbitration case against China, suggested that the country sign a common agreement with China and Vietnam on fishing in the area.

The three countries should have an agreement on how much fish can be caught in the area to maintain sustainable fishing in the shoal.

"They will have to decide the quantity of fish they take because, of course, they cannot take everything because we have to have sustainable fishing there," Carpio said. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

BAJO DE MASINLOC SCARBOROUGH SHOAL SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA ZAMBALES
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