The government yesterday said that Filipino fishermen are not prevented from going to Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, but they are advised to proceed with care.
According to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, there is no statement that specifically prohibits local fishermen from returning to Scarborough Shoal.
“We’re still saying that the fishermen are not prevented. However, they are cautioned to proceed with care,” Abella told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang.
Filipino fishermen, accompanied by some members of the local media, were shooed away by the Chinese Coast Guard in recent incidents off Scarborough Shoal despite the ruling issued by the United National arbitral court.
The government has not yet considered asking the Philippine Coast Guard to escort the local fishermen. “Regarding with government actions, I think we just need to wait for an official statement but the fishermen are not being prevented from going from our side.”
“We’re not keeping our cards close to our chest. We’re really thinking through the right response but the initial statement should be sometime after DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) Secretary (Perfecto) Yasay comes back from Mongolia,” he added.
The government has yet to issue an official response to the recent favorable ruling handed down by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that rejected China’s nine-dash line rule in claiming sovereignty over the contested rocks and features in the West Philippines Sea or South China Sea. (ELENA L. ABEN)