Fishing families demand justice not only for the 22 fishermen, whose livelihood didn’t return to normal since the hit-and-run incident, but to all thee Filipino fishers affected by Chinese aggression of West Philippine Sea.
Pamalakaya/Release
Fisherfolk group slams 'undermined' safety, security in West Philippine Sea
(Philstar.com) - June 9, 2020 - 12:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — A fisherfolk group on Tuesday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte's silence on Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement released on the anniversary of the Reed Bank incident, where a Chinese vessel rammed into Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) demanded justice for the Filipino fishermen.

"President Duterte's silence on Chinese aggression of our waters is a criminal neglect and treason to the national sovereignty and patrimony. It failed to protect the Filipino fisherfolk against Chinese harassment and bullying of Filipino fisherfolks," Pamalakaya National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said.

The group recalled how the Chinese vessel abandoned 22 Filipino fishermen floating at sea after their fishing boat sank. The fishermen were later on rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel passing through the area.

While the owner of the Chinese boat had apologized for the allision, Hicap pointed out that not a single perpetrator has been held to account.

"The socio-economic lives of the 22 affected fishermen didn't return to normal since then. Worst, China is still present in our territorial waters triggering fear and intimidation among the Filipino fishers," Hicap said.

Pamalakaya also lamented how the owner of Gem-Ver, which hails from Mindoro Occidental, spent arounf P2 million for the repair of the boat. The vessel returned to fishing in November last year but was destroyed due to typhoon Ursula in December.

The Pamalakaya chair said the Duterte administration must be held accountable for "compromising" the country's maritime zone to China in exchange for foreign loans and investments.

The group accused Duterte of "betrayal to Filipino fisherfolk and treason to the national sovereignty."

"It failed to protect the Filipino fisherfolk against Chinese harassment and bullying of Filipino fisherfolks. We can't still fish in peace in the West Philippine Sea," Hicap said.

"Our safety and security in the traditional fishing grounds have been undermined, as the Duterte government adopted the surrender policy to the aggressors," he added.

Hicap also noted that China has constructed research stations on Fiery Cross and Subi Reefs, two of its "big three" islands in the Spratlys.

Beijing also earlier announced the establishment of two districts in the South China Sea, which the Philippine government protested as ot overlaps with the country's maritime claims in the West Philippine Sea.

These developments occurred while the rest of the world is busy in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which first emerged in China's Wuhan City late last year. 

GEMVER 1 PHILIPPINES-CHINA TIES RECTO BANK SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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