Harassment proof needed

March 25, 2019

We’ll protest if there’s evidence of Chinese Coast Guard harassing Filipinos — Palace.

THE Philippine government is determined to file a protest if elements of the Chinese Coast Guard are found to be really driving away Filipino fishermen from Panatag Shoal.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said evidence must be shown the fishermen are still being harassed in the country’s territorial waters before the government lodges a protest.

Panelo was reacting to a short documentary released by senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares on the alleged harassment of local fishermen by Chinese coast guard personnel, and how it has affected their livelihood in the West Philippine Sea.

The six-minute clip showed fishermen from Masinloc, Zambales complaining of low fish catch since Chinese personnel were supposedly driving them away and, at times, even confiscating their best catch, and ramming their boats.

‘They have to show proof that’s being done now again. If that is being done, certainly we will protest. We will not allow our countrymen to be subjected to that kind of harassment,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

“If there was a negotiation, there was an agreement not to touch them and then one incident, two incidents violate this agreement, then we have to tell them and they will have to correct it,” he said.

He said Filipinos fishing in Panatag Shoal or anywhere in the country’s waters should “not be touched or harassed.”

“If there is a violation, we have to go back to them (China) and say ‘May violation daw, you better stop.’  The policy is you cannot be harassing our fishermen,” he said.

The two countries previously agreed to let fishermen to freely navigate the South China Sea except for marine protected areas. The alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen, however, has still been reported a number of times in recent months.