To fight Chinese “aggression” in the West Philippine Sea, Vice President and presidential candidate Leni Robredo said Tuesday that the government should provide bigger vessels and other livelihood support to Filipino fishermen.
Robredo made the plea during a town hall meeting with farmers and fishers in the area, including recipients of her office’s Angat Buhay Sustainable Livelihood Program.
“Iyong mga fishermen, dapat may sapat na gamit para makapunta sa malayo. [Sa ngayon] kakaunti lang sila [na nakakapunta] kaya pag pinaligiran sila ng Chinese vessels, wala na silang magawa,” she said.
“Dapat iyong pamahalaan nag-iinvest para magpagawa ng maayos na fishing vessel para kahit papaano ay nakakatapat tayo. Kung may sapat na gamit, kasama na rin ang Coast guard [nag nagpapatrol], kampante ang inyong loob na hindi kayo mabu-bully,” Robredo added.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague dismissed China’s nine-dash line claim to the entire South China Sea in July 2016.
Panatag Shoal, on the other hand, is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales, within the 200-nautical-mile Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea and is part of the municipality of Masinloc in Zambales. A section of the South China Sea is referred to as the West Philippine Sea by the Philippines.
Panatag Shoal is also a joint fishing area, according to the same Hague judgment.
Robredo seeks bigger vessels for Pinoy fishers in West Philippine Sea
In addition to larger ships, Robredo believes that fishers should be given additional sources of income to compensate for lost income during typhoon-plagued months and that homemakers should be able to earn money while caring for their families at home, working as hog raisers or dressmakers, among other things.
“Sa ganito pong paraan, kumikita po sila habang nag-aalaga ng kanilang pamilya,” Robredo said.
Meanwhile, Virgilio Mendoza, a farmer from Sta. Cruz and Lolita Jimenez Uacon of Candelaria Zambales also urged Robredo and his running mate, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, to put an end to open pit mining in their communities.
“Sana po matigil na ito. Apektado na po ang mga magsasaka dahil sa pagwasak ng mga watershed na pinagkukunan namin ng patubig,” Mendoza said.
“Sa Candelaria po, paano po ba permanente na mapatigil ang pagmimina roon kasi kahit nag o-oppose ang taumbayan, pinapayagan po ng mga LGUs na magbungkal ng bundok,” Uacon added.