Alejano seeks clearance from Coast Guard to visit Scarborough
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition senatorial candidate Gary Alejano has formally asked the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to give the Otso Diretso slate a clearance to visit the Scarborough Shoal a week after they were allegedly blocked from going in the area.
The Magdalo party-list representative showed a copy of his letter to PCG commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino during a press conference in Quezon City on Monday.
“Sir, the PCA ruling in 2016 clearly stated that the Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground of Filipino and Chinese fishermen, hence, both of our fishermen can fish there. However, our local media has reported otherwise, which, if left unchecked would greatly undermine our people’s rights to the resources found there,” the April 13 letter reads.
Alejano also said the fishermen who would assist them in their trip should be absolved from any liability.
“I trust that the clearance would also absolve any fishermen or groups of fishermen from any liability for assisting us in the said trip except if, during the trip, they perform prohibited acts contrary to established maritime laws which your office strictly oversees,” the former Marine officer said.
The opposition slate earlier said the 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”– a claim that the PCG had denied.
“Papayagan naman kung nagsabi sila. Walang pagbabawal doon. Hindi kailangan ng permit doon,” PCG spokesperson Captain Armando Balilo said.
Alejano meanwhile argued that if China’s real intention is friendship, it should be “true to its public pronouncements that what they seek is peace in the South China Sea” and should “respect the freedom of our fishermen to fish and our soldiers to patrol and resupply in our occupied islands.”
The senatorial contender then advised the government to pursue a “multilateral approach” rather than a bilateral approach when it comes to the West Philippine Sea dispute.
In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea (SCS) and decided that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (a part of the SCS). /je
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