Opposition bets denounce BFAR’s advice for fishermen to stay away from Panatag Shoal
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition senatorial candidates Neri Colmenares and Gary Alejano on Monday denounced the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for its “defeatist” advice to local fishermen to avoid the Scarborough (Panatag) shoal amid reports that Chinese Coast Guards have been harassing them in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“If a burglar goes to your house wouldn’t you do something to stop him?” Colmenares asked after BFAR National Director Eduardo Gongona advised fishermen to “refrain” from going to the contested parts of the WPS.
“Patalo ang advise na ito at di makakatulong sa mga mangingisda natin. Lubha na ngang bumaba ang huling isda ng mga kababayan natin tapos ngayon ay pinagsisiksikan pa sila ng BFAR sa municipal waters natin samantalang ang China ay naghahari-harian sa ating traditional fishing grounds,” the Bayan Muna chair and Makabayan senatorial candidate said.
(This advise is not advantageous to our fishermen. BFAR wants to relegate them to municipal waters while China is lording it over to our traditional fishing grounds.)
Gongona told Super Radyo dzBB last Friday: “Refrain muna natin na pumunta doon (Refrain from going there), for the meantime, and concentrate on our municipal waters kasi ‘yun nga ang pinangingisdaan natin (because those are our fishing ground).”
“Just be careful at may mga dapat tayong pang-ilagan (because there is something we need to avoid) for the meantime,” he added.
Alejano urged the Duterte administration to protest the reported harassment of Filipino fishermen.
“Magmula noon, ang aking hamon para sa gobyerno ay hindi pa rin nagbabago: maghain ng diplomatic protests laban sa China para sa illegal blockade na ginagawa nito sa West Philippine Sea,” the former Marine officer said.
“Let us assert our rights for the territories which are rightfully ours,” he added.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, meanwhile, pointed out that BFAR’s statement confirmed their earlier allegation that fishermen are being harassed in the WPS.
Colmenares earlier featured, via a video documentary, some Filipino fishermen from Masinloc, Zambales who said Chinese Coast Guard usually seize their catch and force them to go away from the Panatag Shoal which has been a traditional fishing ground for them. /ee
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