China unlikely to enforce SCS fishing ban, detain 'trespassers' — PCG

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
China unlikely to enforce SCS fishing ban, detain 'trespassers' � PCG
Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson for the South China Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela (top R) and Assistant Director-General of the Philippines’ National Security Council Jonathan Malaya (top L) attend a presentation showing alleged Chinese activities in Scarborough Shoal, during a press conference in Manila on May 20, 2024.
AFP / Jam Sta Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — China could not be serious in enforcing its so-called regulations that include the fishing ban in the entire South China Sea and detaining foreign “trespassers,” according to a Philippine Coast Guard official.

Recently, the PCG monitored only two China Coast Guard (CCG) patrol vessels and nine Chinese maritime militia ships surrounding Panatag Shoal, according to Commodore Jay Tarriela, spokesman of the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) for the PCG.

Tarriela noted that the figures were fewer than the “more than 50” Chinese ships that guarded the area when the massive fleet of fishing boats that made up the humanitarian mission of Atin Ito Coalition sailed in mid-May.

“We can argue that if China is really serious in enforcing the fishing ban at its upcoming regulation, it should have beefed up or boosted additional coast guard vessels deployed,” he said during an interview over state-run Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon media forum yesterday.

“The average number of China Coast Guard deployed in Bajo de Masinloc are four vessels; now, it’s just two. This doesn’t add up to explain that this enforcement will be actualized by China,” he added.

Additionally, Tarriela said that Filipino fishermen, particularly those from Zambales and Pangasinan who are likely to be affected by China’s fishing ban, might probably “ignore” China’s impending policies.

“There are fishermen from Zambales who said that they’re just going to ignore this, they will continue to fish Bajo de Masinloc. They know that in the past years, they were able to fish despite China’s fishing ban,” he added.

The Navy official maintained that Panatag Shoal is part of Philippine sovereignty in accordance with international law and with the 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated China’s nine-dash line theory over the entire SCS.

Previously, the DFA protested the “unilateral” four-month fishing ban by China that will last until mid-September.

Tarriela also called as an “empty threat” and “illegal” the regulation for the CCG to arrest detain foreign “trespassers” without a trial for up to 60 days starting mid-June.

He vowed that the PCG would “intensify its presence” in the WPS by deploying more patrol vessels to ensure the safety and security of Filipino fishermen. – Michael Punongbayan, Ghio Ong, Gerry Lee Gorit, Emmanuel Tupas, Bella Cariaso

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