Gutoc hits Duterte’s response to China attacks vs Filipino fishermen
MANILA, Philippines — Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc said on Tuesday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s response to the reported attacks against Filipino fishers by Chinese fishing vessels is lacking.
“This administration seems to have misplaced priorities. Mr. President, with all due respect, ang dami nyo pong time para punahin ang Otso Diretso candidates pero pagdating sa China tiklop kayo (you have plenty of time to take potshots at Otso Diretso candidates, but you have a soft stance on China),” Gutoc said in a statement on Tuesday.
Gutoc was referring to Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s statement that he would just let Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. act on the reports of fishers being allegedly harassed by Chinese fishing vessels.
The Palace official also said they are still seeking to validate the report.
An Inquirer report on Monday said Filipino fishermen were being driven away by Chinese fishing vessels whenever they come near the closest sandbar to Pag-asa Island.
Gutoc said the government must immediately file a protest against China or deploy military troops to protect the fishermen.
“As our government scramble to confirm easily verifiable truths, our fishermen are being harassed in real time,” she said. “Alam naman na po natin na nabu-bully sila ng China, why not file a protest right away or send our troops to protect our fishermen and our territory. Etsapwera na naman ba sila sa ating gobyerno?”
(We know that China bullies them, so why not file a protest right away or send our troops to protect our fishermen and our territory? Are they not a priority of the government?)
Meanwhile, Gutoc asked Locsin to be more assertive in protecting Filipino fishers by investigating the incident and filing a diplomatic protest.
“Sir Locsin, alam namin palaban ka. Sana sa ganitong pagkakataon na nadedehado ang ating mga mangingisda, maging assertive ka rin,” Gutoc said.
(Sir Locsin, we know that you can fight. We hope that in situations like this where our fishermen are at a disadvantage, you will be more assertive.)
“Huwag na sana natin hayaang patuloy na ma-harass ang ating mga mangingisda sa teritoryong inaagaw sa atin (Let us not allow the continued harassment of our fishermen in the territory that they took away from us). Please investigate this report and file a diplomatic protest,” she added.
Gutoc, however, said filing a diplomatic protest against China does not mean that the Philippines will initiate a war against China.
“Hindi naman ibig sabihin nag-assert tayo ng karapatan ng ating mga mangingisda ay makikipag-gyera na tayo. Isang mapayapa pero reasonableng paraan ang pag-file ng diplomatic protest para malaman ng China na hindi natin tanggap ang ginagawa nila,” Gutoc said.
(It doesn’t mean that when we assert our right, we are waging war. Filing a democratic protest is a peaceful way of telling China that we do not accept what they are doing.) /ee
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