Fisherfolk group wants immediate removal of Chinese dredger in Zambales
MANILA, Philippines — Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya on Saturday urged the government to immediately remove the Chinese dredging vessel that ran aground off the coast of Botolan, Zambales, affecting the livelihood of fishermen in the area.
“Small fishers in Zambales decry the impact of the presence of Chinese vessels to their fishing activities. Since their arrival, fish catch dwindled. It should be removed immediately and hold the vessel owner accountable over its negligence to prevent the dredger from beaching on the fishing grounds of Filipino fishers,” Pamalakaya National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a statement.
On Thursday, the Philippine Coast Guard said a Chinese-registered vessel MV Zhong Hai 69 Alfa was grounded over 200 meters off Barangay Bangan last Sunday. PCG added that already checked the Chinese-registered vessel which showed that the ship’s engine room and compartments were flooded with seawater.
There were also no signs of oil leaking from the dredger, PCG said. PCG Commandant Vice-Admiral George Ursabia Jr. said the grounded dredger will be strictly monitored.
Hicap, meanwhile, warned that the Chinese dredging activity could allow the Asian giant to start reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea, specifically in the Scarborough Shoal, which is located 124 nautical miles off the province of Zambales.
“Chinese dredging and reclamation in any part of our waters have to stop as it threatens our marine environment, livelihood and most of all, national sovereignty. We likewise denounce the Duterte government for keeping mum and tolerating this apparent direct foreign invasion and plunder of our territory,” Hicap said.
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