Opposition hits gov’t for blocking their visit to Scarborough Shoal
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition senatorial candidates denounced the Duterte administration on Monday for blocking their planned visit to the Scarborough Shoal and plant a Philippine flag there as a “symbolic positive step” to the arbitral award granted to the Philippines in 2016.
Senatorial bets Gary Alejano, Chel Diokno, Florin Hilbay, and Samira Gutoc held a dialogue with fisherfolk in Masinloc, Zambales earlier in the day.
In a statement, they said the team originally planned to go to Scarborough Shoal but “the Philippine Coast Guard refused to give the boat owners permit if there is recording equipment in the rented boat, and warned that the equipment would be confiscated.”
“Binubulag ang publiko sa totoong nangyayari sa West Philippine Sea, sa Scarborough para hindi magkaroon ng outrage ang mga mamamayang Pilipino sa panggigipit at pangha-harass ng Tsino sa ating mga mangingisda,”Alejano, a representative of the Magdalo party-list, said in an interview.
(This shields the public from knowing what is happening in the West Philippine Sea and the Scarborough Shoal so they cannot express outrage over Chinese harassment of our fishermen.)
“Ang Scarborough ay atin, karagatan natin ‘yan at in fact, sinabi sa publiko ng administrasyong ito na malayang nakapagpangisda ang ating mga mangingisda pero in reality hindi,” he added.
(The Scarborough Shoal is ours. In fact, this administration told our fisherman that they can freely fish in its waters, but the reality is they can’t.)
Alejano said the country should lead a consensus building in the international community to “pressure” China to respect the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which invalidated Beijing’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea.
Gutoc, a Marawi civic leader, meanwhile warned that the reported harassment against Filipino fishermen could result in conflict.
“Ang alarming dito baka we are creating from our Fililpinos resistance or mismo sila ang magagalit sa gobyerno na hindi dinedepensa… and ayoko ‘yun syempre nanggaling na ako sa gyera,” she said.
(What is alarming here is that we may be creating resistance from Filipinos. I don’t want this to happen because I’ve experienced war.)
Diokno, a human rights lawyer, for his part, pointed out how ironic it is that the government is preventing its people from going into a territory owned by the country.
“‘Yun nga yung hindi makatarungang nangyayari sa atin, akala ko ba’y atin ‘yun?… It’s truly an irony pati ang pamahalaan sinasabi nilang bahagi ng Pilipinas ‘yun pero mismong sila’y hindi nila kami pinapayagan,” he said.
(This is not just. I thought it was ours. It’s truly an irony that even our government is saying that it is part of the Philippines, but Filipinos can’t go there.)
Hilbay meanwhile, said the event signifies China’s growing control and President Rodrigo Duterte’s inability to assert the country’s rights over its territory.
“Ito pa ay senyales ng pangmalawakang kontrol ng China at kawalang kapasidad ni Presidente na tumayo laban sa China,” he said.
(This is a sign of China’s control and the inability of our President to stand up against China.)
Hilbay was part of the Philippine legal team that defended the case against China before the international tribunal.
Alejano earlier dared Duterte to a “#JetSkiChallenge” to assert Philippine’s sovereign rights over the West Philippines Sea. /ee
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