After the rescue of its fishermen, China told to respect the rights of Filipino fishers at all times

Manila, Philippines — “The Chinese government should take this incident as a reminder that despite its antagonistic and aggressive behavior against Filipino fishers in the course its occupation of our exclusive economic zone, our fishers still possess the basic acts of humanity especially in times of emergency situation,” according to the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Saturday, referring to the rescuing of two distressed Chinese fishermen by Filipino fishers off Palawan last Thursday night.

Responding to the “appreciation statement” of the Chinese Embassy in Manila, PAMALAKAYA said “gratitude is not enough if the act of kindness demonstrated by Filipino fishers will not be reciprocated with the same humane treatment.”

“Beijing should instead be ashamed of itself for after all the harassment it has done to Filipinos in our territorial waters, our fishers are never capable of the same hostile and cruel actions,” Bobby Roldan, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chair for Luzon said in a statement.

Roldan, a fisherman from Zambales recalled the Recto Bank incident where a Chinese vessel rammed, sank, and abandoned the F/B Gem-Ver1, a Filipino fishing boat aboard 22 fishermen off Mindoro during the wee hours of June 9, 2019. The Filipino fishers were left at the mercy of elements until a Vietnamese fishing vessel came for their rescue.

The fisherfolk leader in Central Luzon also noted the consistent fishing blockade by at least two Chinese Coast Guard vessels to Filipino fishers who attempt to venture in Panatag Shoal (international name Scarborough). Panatag Shoal, located 124-nautical mile off the Masinloc Zambales, has a lagoon that provides fishing shelter for the Filipino fishers in times of turbulent weather. Roldan earlier said that Zambales fishers have abandoned their traditional fishing haven due to the presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels that drive them away from entering the lagoon.

“Ang mga nabanggit naming karahasan na sinasapit ng mga Pilipinong mangingisda sa kamay ng China sa West Philippine Sea ay hindi panunumbat, kundi isang paalala na ang mga kagayang pagtrato ay hinding-hindi naming kayang gawin sa kapwa namin mangingisda anuman ang lahi nito o sa gitna ng umiiral na tensyon sa pagitan ng aming mga bansa. Higit sa lahat, ito ay paalala sa China na irespeto nila ang karapatan ng mga Pilipinong mangingisda sa inaangkin nilang teritoryo, kagaya nang maayos naming pagtrato sa mga mangingisda nila na kung tutuusin ay iligal na pumapasok sa aming karagatan,” Roldan ended. ###

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