Gov't urged to issue 'rules of engagement' for West Philippine Sea fishermen
Rep. Gary Alejano on Wednesday said that the government should issue rules of engagement for fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

Gov't urged to issue 'rules of engagement' for West Philippine Sea fishermen

(Philstar.com) - June 20, 2018 - 10:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) on Wednesday called on the government to issue guidelines and “rules of engagement” for Filipino fishermen in dealing with tensions in contested areas in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines.

“Today, when incidents arise (in the West Philippine Sea), Filipino fisherfolk do not know whom to approach. The government must set out guidelines and rules of engagement which the fishermen will follow should they experience harassment from the Chinese,” Alejano said in a statement in Filipino.

A mobile phone video obtained by GMA News showed Chinese Coast Guard personnel boarding the vessel of Filipino fishermen on the Panatag Shoal and taking some of their catch.

Alejano earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered government troops to cease patrolling in the disputed waters. However, the former Marine officer said that this plan was shelved after it was met by opposition from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Both Malacanang and the AFP have disputed his claim.

Alejano said local government units and various government agencies should be tapped to “discuss and clarify with the fishing communities their role on the issue” and to consolidate fisherfolk organizations for better coordination with government.

Amid the continuous militarization by Beijing in the West Philippine Sea, Alejano urged Congress and the Duterte administration to enact legislation which would modernize the Philippine Coast Guard and develop a system for “scheduled fishing missions.”

“It is important that the Philippine Coast Guard accompany our fisherfolk when they fish in our seas, not only for their security but also to send a message to China that we are ready to protect our countrymen when we assert our rights to our territory,” he said.

At present, two measures in the lower house calling for the coast guard’s modernization have been filed by Alejano. — Christian de Lano Deiparine

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