The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Monday distributed more than P4 million in livelihood assistance to fisherfolk in Pag-asa Island.
According to Jun Veneracion’s report on “24 Oras,” BFAR and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reached the island on board the BRP Francisco Dagohoy, marking the first time the patrol vessel sailed to the island to disburse free fishing equipment such as motorbancas.
“Ito ang isang hakbang para bigyan ng pugay bilang buhay na bayani ng ating bansa,” said BFAR Spokesperson Nazario Briguera.
(It is our way of honoring them as living national heroes.)
Lieutenant Commander Mark Adrias, the commanding officer of the BRP Francisco Dagohoy, said he had experienced firsthand China’s aggressions, including being shadowed and receiving radio challenges to keep them at bay from occupied features.
“Usually ‘pag dumadaan sa area na may China Coast Guard, especially ‘yung occupied features ng China Coast Guard, shina-shadow tayo ng coast guard or may radio challenges na china-challenge sa atin purposely para umiwas sa kanilang sine-set na 12 nautical miles na ino-occupy nila,” said Adrias.
(Usually when we pass by the area of the China Coast Guard, we are shadowed or are sent radio challenges. They purposely drive us away from the areas they occupy.)
Local officials said they also experienced hostile behavior from the CCG and Chinese militia, which previously kept fisherfolk from fishing in the resource-rich waters.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade pass annually, with competing claims from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
In July 2016, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, based on a case filed by the Philippines, junked China’s nine-dash line claim covering the entire South China Sea.
Beijing has refused to acknowledge the ruling.
Manila refers to portions of the sea as the West Philippine Sea. — Sundy Locus/DVM, GMA Integrated News