The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has asserted that Filipinos have the right to fish in the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
“Huwag tayong matakot na pumunta do’n. Ang Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground natin. Noon pa. Kaya kailangan pumunta po tayo do’n at kailangan tayong mangisda especially ‘yong mga taga-Region 3 kasi sakop nila ‘yan,” said BFAR director Eduardo Gongona in an interview with Teleradyo on Monday.
(Let’s not be afraid to go there. Scarborough Shoal is our traditional fishing ground. Even before. So we have to go there and we have to fish especially those from Region 3 because they cover that)
He urges Filipino fishermen to take the marine resources they deserve.
“Huwag po silang matatakot kasi ang Philippine Coast Guard at Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will be there para protektahan at pangalagaan at i-monitor kung ano man ang situwasyon meron sila do’n,” Gongona added.
(Don’t be afraid of them because the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will be there to protect and preserve and monitor whatever situation they have there.)
He also denied reports that the Chinese were expelling Filipinos who were fishing in the area.
Filipino fishermen have rights over Scarborough Shoal: BFAR
“Walang report na sila ay itinataboy… Nakakapangisda tayo doon,” he said.
(There is no report that they are being driven away. We can fish there.)
Scarborough Shoal is 120 nautical miles away from Zambales and is part of the country’s exclusive economic zone.
In August, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China after the Chinese Coast Guard allegedly confiscated the equipment of Filipino fishermen.
In April, Wang Wenbni, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said China had sovereignty over the Nansha Islands or Spratlys, which included Hope Island and Scarborough Shoal.
Last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has filed another diplomatic protest over the recent actions of the Chinese in the Panatag Shoal (also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal), as well as over their long-term fishing and presence in Philippine maritime zones.