Ensure safety of Filipino fishers in Julian Felipe Reef, authorities urged
Manila, Philippines – The progressive fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Thursday appealed protection for Filipino fishers fishing near the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef), where about 200 Chinese vessels believed to be manned by “coastal militias” are having presence since March 7.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said fisherfolk from Palawan, Batangas, and Mindoro provinces frequent the Julian Felipe Reef for fishing expedition. But with the presence of Chinese vessels and the recently-enacted Coast Guard Law which empowers Chinese personnel to fire at non-Chinese vessels entering their occupied waters, the fishers’ group raised fear for the fishing safety and security of Filipino fisherfolk.
“The presence of about 200 Chinese vessels in our marine territory came at the heels of the passing of the controversial Coast Guard Law. We can’t help but be alarmed of what possibly could happen to Filipino fisherfolks conducting livelihood in our own traditional fishing grounds with these big foreign vessels around,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisher’s group earlier chided at the Philippine government for its “slow-paced” action on what it appeared as “actual foreign invasion” of the country, and called for a “more decisive yet peaceful approach” to drive away the Chinese vessels.
“If our authorities could not dispel the Chinese vessels, the least they could do is to escort our fisherfolks in Julian Felipe Reef, and ensure that no bad thing would happen to them during fishing operations,” ended Hicap. ###