Manila, Philippines – The progressive fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) is “highly alarmed” by the harassment of Chinese Coast Guard and Chinese Navy against a Philippine vessel aboard a media crew within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.
“That was a flagrant display of aggression against the Filipinos. China has no right to issue a radio warning and chase away our vessel sailing within our very exclusive economic zone. If Chinese maritime personnel can manifest such antagonistic behavior against a media crew, one can only imagine how they treat our poor fisherfolks fishing in our territorial waters,” Bobby Roldan, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chair for Luzon said in a statement on Saturday.
PAMALAKAYA also slammed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on what they call as “defeatist stand” on the recent Chinese harassment incident, where the AFP reminded the media to “exercise prudence” in doing coverage within the disputed waters.
“Instead of confronting themselves the Chinese vessels that are reportedly harassing Filipinos, these so-called defenders of our territory and sovereignty hinder our moral action by issuing dissuasion statements. The issue is not whether the media crew commendably braved the threat of Chinese military aggression to look into the situation of our fisherfolks, but why is the AFP not doing anything to prevent these foreign military vessels from encroaching in our waters,” Roldan lamented.
The fishers’ group said the AFP’s statement was “contradictory to the pugnacious” stand of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana against the continuing presence of about 200 Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) and other parts of the West Philippine Sea.
“After all his strong comebacks against the presence of Chinese vessels in our territory, the AFP has exposed Mr. Lorenzana’s stand as just all for a show. Kanino pa lalapit ang mga mangingisdang hinaharas at tinatakot ng mga dayuhan kung wala nang maaasahan sa mismong hukbong sandatahang lakas na tinaguriang tagapagligtas ng mamamayan?” Roldan said.
In the face of intensifying Chinese aggression and lack of concrete action from the Philippine government, PAMALAKAYA calls on the Filipinos to unite and defend the national sovereignty against any foreign aggressors. ###