Cayetano: PH, China agree fishermen can freely navigate South China Sea
The Philippines and China have agreed that fishermen can freely navigate the disputed South China Sea, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Sunday.
The secretary said fishermen should be free to fish in the West Philippine Sea except in marine protected areas.
His statement comes after a video aired on GMA-7 showed members of China’s coast guard boarding the boats of Filipino fishermen reportedly to grab their catch on Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal).
“We have an agreement [with China] that fishermen should be free,” he said.
Cayetano said that Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua has assured the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that violators will be apprehended.
“The Chinese Ambassador has assured us that they will apply the law very harshly to the violators,” Cayetano told reporters at the airport after welcoming at least 100 distressed migrant workers from the United Arab Emirates.
Cayetano did not specify which law he was referring to.
While he thanked the media for exposing the alleged harassment incident, Cayetano expressed doubts on Congressmen Gary Alejano’s assertion that members of the Chinese coast guard continually harass Filipino fishermen by taking their best catch.
He said it’s likely that Filipino fishermen were selling or bartering their best catch right at the sea.
Cayetano urged Filipinos to directly report harassment incidents to the DFA “so we can act on it right away.”
The secretary earlier said the Philippines has filed at least 100 protests against China, but the DFA refused to disclose more information on the matter. /ee
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