Chinese Coast Guard harassed Filipino fishermen at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales, the National Security Council – Task Force West Philippine Sea said in a statement Tuesday.
This, despite President Duterte’s appeal for China to allow Filipino fishermen to resume fishing in the area, which is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Citing a report from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the NSC said said the latest harassment of Filipino fishermen by the Chinese took place early this month.
Three China Coast Guard vessels and two Filipino fishing boats were seen in the area on Sept. 6, according to the PCG report.
“The Chinese Coast Guard vessel moved to the location of a Filipino banca. Upon reaching the Filipino banca, a Chinese Coast Guard personnel onboard a rubber boat ordered the Filipino banca to leave the area,” the PCG said.
The crew of the Filipino banca were seen haggling with the Chinese Coast Guard personnel to let them stay in the area to fish, it added.
Another Chinese Coast Guard rubber boat headed towards the location of the Filipino fishing bancas, but the Filipino fishermen refused to leave the area.
During that time, the captain of the Filipino banca signaled his crew members to return to their mother boat, the NSC said.
PCG operatives the spotted another Filipino banca approaching Bajo de Masinloc (another name for Panatag).
“When the Filipino banca was around 3 nautical miles from Bajo de Masinloc, it was blocked by the Chinese Coast Guard. The Filipino banca outmaneuvered the Chinese Coast Guard vessel,” the PCG report said.
“Two Chinese rubber boats were deployed to intercept the Filipino banca from reaching Bajo de Masinloc. The Chinese rubber boats eventually disengaged and went back to their respective mother boats,” the report continued.
The three Filipino bancas were able to stay at Bajo de Masinloc for the night but they left in the morning for fear of harassment by the Chinese Coast Guard vessels. (ELENA ABEN)