PCG to escort Pinoy fishers after latest China harassment

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Monday vowed to escort Filipino fisherfolk following another harassment incident by China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The PCG and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) are regularly monitoring the Bajo de Masinloc and other parts of the WPS, but the latest incident occurred during a “lull time”, according to PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela.

“Nangyari ito noong January 12 wherein there is no coast guard and BFAR vessel that was present during that time,” said Tarriela in Chino Gaston’s “24 Oras” report.

(This happened on January 12 when there was no PCG or BFAR vessel present.)

“But we are coordinating with the BFAR to make sure na itong ganitong lull time na magkakaroon ng vacuum ng presence ng government forces will no longer happen again,” Tarriela said.

(But we are coordinating with the BFAR to make sure that this lull time will not happen again.)

“According to our Filipino fishermen, every time na mayroong public vessel doon whether the Coast Guard or the BFAR, mas nagkakaroon ng leeway yung China Coast Guard because they focus more on the PCG vessels and BFAR,” he added.

(According to our Filipino fishermen, every time there is a public vessel there, whether the Coast Guard or the BFAR, there is a leeway for the CCG because they focus more on the PCG vessels and BFAR.)

A Sunday “24 Oras Weekend” report said the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) ordered the Zambales fishermen to return the shells they collected from the sea.

The incident occurred near the south entrance of the Bajo de Masinloc.

A video of the incident has been circulating online and the PCG said it successfully identified the origin of the videos and has taken steps to gather sworn statements from the individuals involved.

“Dito sa huling kaganapan kung saan nagkaroon na naman ng pagtataboy o harassment ang ating fishermen sa kamay ng mga Chinese Coast Guard, ikinakabahala natin ito and we condemn this latest provocative action,” said National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya.

(There was a recent harassment by the CCG against Filipino fisherfolks. This is very alarming, and we condemn this latest provocative action.)

For its part, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the Northern Luzon Command — which patrols the area — did not receive such a report.

“We consider this alarming because lumalapit ng lumalapit na po yung mga incidents but with the command conference that we had, there was a guidance by the President,” said AFP Spokesperson Colonel Francel Padilla.

(We consider this alarming because the incidents are getting nearer but with the command conference that we had, there was guidance by the President.)

“With any incident that we get, we will fortify our missions accordingly. We are reactive naman in these cases, but we will assure the public that we are continuously doing our regular operations in our territorial waters,” she said.

Meanwhile, the AFP Western Command distributed supplies to troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre over the weekend through aerial delivery. — Sundy Locus/DVM, GMA Integrated News

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