“The boats didn’t have much fish harvest then,” Ronnel Estrera, 30, said in his regional language. But their catch has doubled, Estrera said, as he and 23 others have resumed their fishing operations.
‘Filipino fishermen told to fish farther from Panatag’
Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) - March 30, 2019 - 12:00am

BOLINAO, Pangasinan, Philippines — Fishermen here who sailed off on Thursday evening to Panatag or Scarborough Shoal were unperturbed by recent reports of harassment by China’s coast guard.

“The boats didn’t have much fish harvest then,” Ronnel Estrera, 30, said in his regional language. But their catch has doubled, Estrera said, as he and 23 others have resumed their fishing operations.

He said those who were allegedly harassed had gotten too close to the shoal so China’s coast guard told them to fish about 10 miles farther.

“We just stay in the vicinity – away from them,” Estrera added.

For his part, 53-year-old Roberto Mahadas, who has been fishing at Panatag for 30 years, said he catches fish more than 20 miles from the shoal.

But other fishermen go nearer because there are more fish in the shoal, Mahadas said.

Estrera and Mahadas noted that there are four Chinese vessels in the area.

Salvador Panelo dared

Meanwhile, the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) dared yesterday presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo to join Filipino fishers as they venture into Panatag and witness how they are “intimidated by the heavy presence of (China) Coast Guard.”

“If (Panelo) wants proof about the continuous bullying and harassment, then he himself must conduct an on-site investigation,” said Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya chairman.

Pamalakaya has criticized the Duterte administration for allegedly “turning a blind-eye on the valid reports of the Filipino fisherfolk as well as Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo about the incidents of Chinese preventing Filipino fishers from fishing in the sandbars located near the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island.”

“Not only the livelihood of our fishermen but also the local food security and domestic industrial development are at stake should our government continue to allow China to illegally occupy and devour our marine and mineral resources in the West Philippine Sea,” Hicap said.– With Ding Cervantes

SCARBOROUGH SHOAL WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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