Palawan fishers anxious about China’s threat to arrest ‘trespassers’

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Palawan fishers anxious about China�s threat to arrest �trespassers�
Fisherfolk group casts fear over galunggong fishing ban A fisherfolk federation expressed fear that a ban on galunggong would have adverse effects on local fishermen.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines —  Palawan-based fishers have expressed fear of getting picked up at sea by the Chinese coast guard and detained for 60 days once Beijing’s new maritime regulation takes effect on June 15.

In a radio interview, Puerto Princesa City Councilor Elgin Robert Damasco said he and other officials had a meeting recently with fisherfolk where they relayed their apprehension that China would make good its threat to detain without trial for two months any foreigner found “trespassing” in what it considers its territorial waters.

“We know that the province of Palawan is the nearest area in the West Philippine Sea. The municipality of Kalayaan is in the West Philippine Sea and it is part of Palawan,” Damasco said.

“We are just relaying the fear of our fellow fisherfolk who are operating in our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea,” Damasco added.

The Philippine Coast Guard said China’s rule should be ignored, and that nobody can bar Filipinos from sailing to the West Philippine Sea, the area in the South China Sea that is within the Philippines’ EEZ and continental shelf. The PCG has dismissed Beijing’s announcement as “psychological operations.”

“The statement of China came after the successful civilian mission of our fellow citizens led by the Atin Ito Movement in Zambales. This was also the reason why China issued such an inhumane policy to arrest and detain foreign intruders. Our fishermen (in Palawan) believe that they will be included in the arrest,” Damasco added.

Damasco said that he already asked the PCG, the Department of National Defense, and the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to address the fisherfolk’s concerns.

“The Philippine Coast Guard already said that the fishermen should disregard the threat of China. The fishers were asking if the government could protect them,” he added.

He also revealed having sought explanation from the Chinese embassy through email.

New Masinloc Fishermen’s Association president Leonardo Cuaresma, meanwhile, said they would continue fishing in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Masinloc in Zambales despite China’s latest restrictions.

“Our fellow Filipino fishermen will not do anything that is bad. The government should use its resources to show that (Panatag Shoal) is not their (China) territory. We also have many allied countries. They should be tapped to conduct joint maritime patrol to show our strength,” Cuaresma added.

Meanwhile, the PCG unveiled yesterday a monitoring and communications station in Itbayat, Batanes. –  Evelyn Macairan

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with