'Bullying' of GMA news team at Scarborough alarming, Robredo says

'Bullying' of GMA news team at Scarborough alarming, Robredo says
In his article posted on Facebook on Thursday afternoon, GMA News reporter Jun Veneracion said they were barred by the Chinese Coast Guard from doing a follow-up report on the Filipino fishermen whose catch were being taken away by the Chinese.

MANILA, Philippines — Chinese Coast Guard driving a GMA News team away from Scarborough Shoal (also called Panatag Shoal and Baho de Masinloc) and requiring them to seek China's permission to conduct interviews there is a cause for concern and anger, Vice President Leni Robredo said.

"This incident is saddening because it seems to drive home that others are claiming what we have rights over," Robredo said in Filipino on her weekly radio show.

"It's clear in the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal, Ka Ely (Saludar, her co-host), that Panatag Shoal is inside our exclusive economic zone. There is just some debate on whether it is a rock or an island. But whether it is a rock or an island, it is not owned by China because it is in our exclusive economic zone," she also said.

Robredo was referring to an incident where GMA-7 reporter Jun Veneracion and his crew were barred from conducting interviews with Filipino fishermen whose catch Chinese coastguardsmen had taken earlier in the year in what President Rodrigo Duterte characterized as a kind of "barter exchange."

A clip of the incident, which happened on November 8 and aired GMA's "Reporter's Notebook" last Thursday, showed a member of the Chinese Coast Guard telling Veneracion that he needed permission to conduct interviews.

The Chinese was also heard saying it will be a "forced matter" if the media crew did not leave the area.

"China is claiming it and the government's response is saddening," she also said, referring to President Rodrigo Duterte's comment last week against the US holding drills in the South China Sea.

"I said China is already in possession. It's now in their hands so why do you have to create frictions... military activity that will prompt a response to China," Duterte told reporters on November 15. Duterte was not commenting on the incident involving Veneracion and his crew when he made that statement.

RELATED: 'Duterte statements on China-held features could disadvantage Philippines'

DFA looking into incident

The Department of Foreign Affairs is already looking into the incident

"Checkin’ if cruisin’ in waters under exclusive economic zone (EEZ) principle that it is ours for fishing (for fish, not trouble) and other economic activities – but disputed nonetheless – includes provoking an incident. Maybe it does. Legal team working on it," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on his Twitter account in response to the incident. 

Locsin had earlier told reporters that they should have verified reports of China putting up and operating weather stations in artficial islands elsewhere in the South China Sea. "If you heard that, it's very easy to just fly over it. I mean, don't you have that capability?" he said in a press briefing on November 15.

RELATED: Senators slam China Coast Guard’s ‘bullying’ of TV reporter

Palace: Scarborough is part of Philippine territory

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China's sweeping nine-dash-line claim over much of the South China Sea does not have legal basis.

It also ruled that Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing area for fisherfolk from the Philippines, China, Vietnam and other nations. It found that China failed to respect traditional fishing rights of Filipino fishermen by preventing access to the shoal after May 2012.

The tribunal also said that Scarborough Shoal is a rock, which means it is allowed only a 12-nautical mile territorial sea and has no exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or continental shelf. .

RELATED: How the Hague court ruled on the Philippines’ 15 arguments

The Philippines, meanwhile, has maintained that Scarborough Shoal is within its 200-nautical mile EEZ. In January, the Palace, through Harry Roque — presidential spokesperson at the time — said: "We continue to stand by our claim that Scarborough is part of the territory of the Philippines but we will set aside these discussions for now so that our people will have a source of livelihood."

On Sunday, Robredo said that sovereignty may seem like an abstract idea to many but said that it also impacts people's livelihoods. 

"We have many fisherfolk who get their livelihood from there," Robredo, who has also called for transparency in the bilateral agreements signed last week when Chinese President Xi Jinping was in Manila for a state visit, said.

The Duterte administration has pursued warmer ties with China, which includes an agreement for further talks on joint gas and oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea signed last week.

This policy has been credited for giving Filipino fisherfolk access to Scarborough Shoal, which has been under de facto Chinese control since a standoff in 2012.

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with