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Filipino fishers test Duterte’s diplomacy in Panatag return

SUBIC, Zambales – On his first voyage as captain, Joel Banila was more worried about being battered by Chinese Coast Guard ships than he was about the impending storm on the horizon in the South China Sea.

His was one of the first boats to gamble on the big catches on offer in and around the disputed Scarborough or Panatag Shoal since President Duterte made surprise overtures towards China, which sees the area as its sovereign territory.

For four years, Chinese ships have blockaded the tranquil lagoon rich in fish stocks and forced fishermen from the Philippines to travel further for smaller catches, reflecting tensions in the South China Sea where several countries have overlapping claims.

Frosty relations between China and the Philippines have improved markedly, however, as Duterte shifts away from traditional ally the United States and closer to Beijing, and some fishermen have decided to take a calculated risk.

“I felt a bit nervous because it was my first time serving as captain,” 32-year-old Banila told Reuters, a day after making the 10-hour, 124-mile journey back to the shores of the northwest Philippines.

“We heard what happened before, that they (Chinese ships) ram the boats, so I was moving slowly around the shoal but nothing happened.”

There has been considerable confusion at sea since Duterte’s diplomatic shift, with China’s foreign ministry saying this week that the situation at Scarborough Shoal “has not changed and will not change.” (Reuters)

comments
  • nico.coneta

    ang nais ni duterte ay daanin sa mabuting usapan at hindi sa pkikipag bangayan.

    • anarose

      binenta na tayo nyang pinapaniwalaan mo.

      • delia

        u-l-o-l..wala ka taLagang alam,mag basa ka nga para maging updated yang u-t-a-k mo!

  • shiela datang

    buti na lang at nka balik na ang ating mga mangingisda doon.

  • diwata

    kahit balik balikan ng mga mangingisda walang masama na mangyayari sa kanila

  • greyman

    just see itfor yourself if its true

  • jona

    oust him so we will be panatag

  • baby

    filipino fisherman near in shoal have faith and have a catch of a tons of fish

  • josh

    Nareclaim nalang yan dahil kay President Duterte. Galing talaga ng ating President. Maraming mga mangingisda galing sa zambales ang matutuwa talaga dito!

  • YUmiko

    kredibility man lang try nyu nalang experience nyu nalang para mapanatag na kayo roon

  • walter

    sus! pakitang gilas nya lang yan para malinlang tayo na pinagbili na ni dudirty ang shoal sa mga tsekwa!

    • prince

      pano mong nasabing pinagbili eh sya pa nga gumawa ng aksyon para makapangisda na muli ang mga pinoy

  • christine

    Yan ang maganda kay Presidente kasi kapag sinabi nyang makakabalik ang mga pinoy sa pangingisda tinupad nya!

    • ken

      oo nga eh! Kaya tama talaga na sya ang pinili ko, may isang salita sya sa mga mamamayan!