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A Malacañang official said yesterday that there are no more Chinese Coast Guard vessels in Scarborough Shoal, also known as the Panatag Shoal, enabling Filipino fishermen to freely access and fish in the area.
“Regarding fishing in Scarborough Shoal, for the past three days, it has been observed that there are no longer any Chinese Coast Guard vessels and that Filipino fishing boats are no longer being intercepted and that they are now able to fish in the area without being intercepted,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
This development comes one week after President Duterte’s state visit to China. Upon his return to the country, Duterte announced that Filipino fishermen may be able to return to the Chinese-held Scarborough Shoal after he discussed the territorial rift with Chinese leaders.
Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque, who was part the President’s delegation to China, claimed that the two governments have reached a “modus vivendi” to allow Filipino fishermen to return to the Shoal.
But Abella, when asked if there was already an agreement reached on the issue during the President’s China trip, said that “nothing has been official regarding the matter.”
“There’s nothing official regarding that matter. But all we know is based on results fishermen can now go into those waters,” he added. (Elena L. Aben)