Manila, Philippines — Filipino fishers suffer from two governments: one from the People’s Republic of China and the other from the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the national fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA).
In a statement, Bobby Roldan, a fisherman and PAMALAKAYA leader in Zambales province, lambasted the Duterte government for covering up for China by invalidating the plight of Filipino fishers in the West Philippine Sea.
PAMALAKAYA’s statement was aired to media in response to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque disputing the testimony of fisherfolks that they are still barred from fishing in the Chinese-occupied Panatag Shoal (Scarborough) in the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“Why is Secretary Roque coming to China’s defense? Just because he provided legal assistance to Filipino fishers affected by China before doesn’t mean he has a lasting knowledge about our worsening situation on the ground. Now that Mr. Roque has completely turned his back on Filipino fishers by seemingly lawyering for China, he loses any ethos to speak on behalf of the aggrieved fisherfolks. Our situation in the West Philippine Sea has ever worsened especially now that our own government is an enabler of Chinese aggression, simply put,” Bobby Roldan, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chair for Luzon said in a statement.
Panatag Shoal, according to PAMALAKAYA is located 124-nautical miles from the mainland of Zambales province. It possesses a lagoon which PAMALAKAYA said used to serve as a safe harbor for Filipino fishers especially in times of turbulent weather. But the lagoon, the fishers’ group furthered, is currently guarded by at least two Chinese coast guard vessels, preventing Filipino fishers from entering to seek shelter.
“The Duterte regime can’t even defend us from Chinese forces and yet it has the audacity to invalidate our plight which stemmed from Beijing’s usurpation of our territory. Duterte should be condemned as a national traitor by working hand in glove with China to further exploit the Filipino fishers,” PAMALAKAYA ended. ###