6 bishops to govt:Protect our fishers

6 bishops to govt: Protect our fishers

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:10 AM February 05, 2024

West Philippine Sea Filipino fishermen

The Chinese Coast Guard tried to drive away Filipino fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc in the West Philippine Sea early this month, the Philippine Coast Guard reported on Sunday, with videos of the supposed harassment making the rounds on social media during the weekend.

Six Catholic bishops of dioceses in Luzon with fisherfolk communities urged the government to exhaust all means to protect them from the continued harassment of China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), even finding it necessary to seek help from other allied countries.

“The Church stands with them, and as a shepherd from various ecclesiastical jurisdictions with fisherfolk within our pastoral care, we stand with them, and we bishops give voice to their fears and anxieties, their woes and their concerns,” the bishops said in a statement joint pastoral exhortation on Sunday.


It was signed by Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (Pangasinan); Bishops Bartolome Santos Jr. of Iba (Zambales), Daniel Presto of San Fernando (La Union), Socrates Mesiona of Puerto Princesa (Palawan) and Broderick Pabillo of Taytay (Palawan); and Auxiliary Bishop Fidelis Layog of Lingayen-Dagupan.


“We seek peace, and it cannot be a moral option to wage war. But neither is it just for the leaders of our country to allow our own fisherfolk to be driven out of fishing grounds over which international law recognizes our rights,” the bishops said.

Words not enough

While they acknowledge government statements of resoluteness in defending the WPS, they, however, noted that “words are not enough.”

READ: PCG to Filipino fishers: Don’t be discouraged by China’s harassment

The bishops blamed the “policy of appeasing the Chinese aggressors” for having worsened the situation of the country’s impoverished fisherfolk, saying it “emboldened” China to displace Filipino fisherfolk from their traditional fishing grounds.

The statement of the bishops came weeks after the Philippine Coast Guard reported that Filipino fisherfolk collecting sea shells near Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) were intimidated and driven away by the Chinese Coast Guard on Jan. 12, the latest incident of harassment as tensions between Manila and Beijing have escalated in recent months. INQ

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TAGS: bishop, Fishermen, protection

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