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‘Chinese boats block Philippine fishers in Panatag’

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
�Chinese boats block Philippine fishers in Panatag�
The Chinese Coast Guard kept its post inside the lagoon of Scarborough shoal while fishermen were seen at the perimeter during the regular maritime survey of the Bureau of Fish and Aquatic Resources on September 28, 2023.
Michael Varcas / The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The China Coast Guard has deployed rubber boats around Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to prevent Filipino fisherfolk from entering the lagoon, a fishers’ group said yesterday.

The presence of Chinese vessels in Panatag further intensified in recent years, the Bigkis ng mga Mangingisda Federation in Masinloc, Zambales added.

“The Chinese coast guard is on standby outside, but the Chinese rubber boats are patrolling the area and preventing Filipino fishermen from entering the lagoon,” the group’s spokesman Henrelito Empoc said in an interview over radio dzBB.

Empoc noted that the Chinese rubber boats tail the Filipino fishermen once they try to enter the lagoon.

“The Chinese fishing vessels are free to fish in the lagoon. We can prove to our authorities that the harassment of the Chinese coast guard has increased in the last months,” he said.

Empoc called on the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to assist Filipino fishermen in Panatag.

“The Filipino fishermen will be happy if that happens. There were times when foreign vessels entered our exclusive economic zone. They are near 80 nautical miles. We know that the foreign vessels have no right to enter water owned by the Philippines,” he said.

The revenues of fisherfolk have declined by 70 percent due to the limited access to fishing grounds, Empoc noted.

“Before the pandemic, the Chinese already dropped floating barriers, although they were removed because of the strong waves,” he claimed.

The PCG has vowed to “do whatever it takes” to remove any more floating barriers installed by China in the South China Sea.

The floating barrier was found across the entrance to the shoal last week during a routine Philippine government resupply mission to Filipino fishermen.

Coast Guard personnel cut a rope tethering the barrier to an anchor, allowing it to drift.

President Marcos earlier said that his government was “not looking for trouble” but he insisted it would “continue to defend the Philippines, the maritime territory of the Philippines, the rights of our fishermen to ply their trade in the areas where they have been fishing for hundreds of years.”

China: US is empire of lies

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sept. 30 called the United States an “empire of lies” after the US Department of State released a report alleging that Beijing spent billions of dollars annually for propaganda and disinformation to manipulate foreign information.

The report revealed that China invested billions in false information to promote positive views of China and the Chinese Communist Party.

“The PRC (People’s Republic of China) seeks to cultivate and uphold a global incentive structure that encourages foreign governments, elites, journalists and civil society to accept its preferred narratives and avoid criticizing its conduct,” the report stated.

“Some in the US may think that they can prevail in the information war as long as they produce enough lies. But the people of the world are not blind,” China’s foreign ministry said.

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FISHERFOLK

PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD

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