Chinese vessels block fishermen entrance to disputed waters

Chinese vessels block fishermen entrance to disputed waters

- Some members of the media accompanied Filipino fisherman in going to the waters of the Scarborough Shoal

- They were blocked by Chinese vessels and asked to leave the surrounding area

- The Permanent Court of Arbitration has recently announced its ruling in favor of the Philippines regarding the territorial dispute 

Apparently, the battle has just begun. Local fishermen are still not able to fish in the waters surrounding the rich Scarborough Shoal despite an international court's ruling on territorial claim of the Philippines against China.

It was reported that members of the media from the ABS-CBN News team accompanied some Filipino fishermen in entering the disputed area.

"Nakisabay kami dito sa isang grupo ng mangingisdang Pinoy na susubok nga, sumubok sila na magpalaot isang araw pagkatapos ng arbitral tribunal at susubukan nga nila kung papapasukin na sila sa Scarborough Shoal," Chiara Zambrano said.

READ MORE: A primer on PH vs China arbitration

Chinese vessels block fishermen entrance to disputed waters
Chinese Coast Guard vessel tried to bully a fishing boat by gunning its engine. (Photo credit: Anders Corr

(We joined a group of Filipino fishermen who wanted to try going to the waters a day after the decision of the arbitral tribunal and have made an attempt whether they will be granted entry to the Scarborough Shoal.)

According to them, they saw a Chinese fishing vessel along the way. It followed and stopped them from entry.

"Pero ang lumalabas eh parang, siguro, 40 miles pa ang layo namin mula sa Scarborough (Shoal) eh...sinalubong na kami nitong malaking Chinese coast guard ship at binuntutan na nila kami kasi nakikita na nila siyempre ang direksyong tinatahak nitong bangka ay papunta doon sa Bajo de Masinloc," Zambrano said.

READ MORE: Chinese President to army: ‘Prepare for combat’

(I think we are like 40 miles away from the Scarborough Shoal when we were met by a big Chinese coast guard ship who followed us because they saw that we are headed towards the direction of Bajo de Masinloc.)

Bajo de Masinloc used to be one of the traditional and habitual fishing areas of the Filipinos residing near the area.

"At iniisip nga namin bakit kami sinusundan at binubuntutan, 'yun pala ay para hindi kami makaliko pakaliwa dahil papunta na doon 'yung Scarborough (Shoal)," she added.

READ MORE: Find out how Asian countries reacted to PH vs China ruling

(We were curious because they kept on following us, then we realized that they are trying to stop us from going left, where the Scarborough Shoal is located.)

The locals also observed that another fishing vessel of China is blocking the entrance of Bajo de Masinloc.

"At itinuro ng mga mangingisda na may pangalawang barko ng Chinese Coast Guard na nandoon mismo, nakabalagbag doon sa bukana, doon sa pasukan ng Scarborough Shoal," Zambrano said.

READ MORE: BREAKING: China remains defiant over UN ruling

(The fishermen are also pointing out another vessel of the Chinese Coast Guard in the place, blocking any possible entry in the Scarborough Shoal.)

Four other vessels in the area were seen by the group.

Since they were not able to go to the Scarborough Shoal, the fishermen chose to just fish outside the vicinity. In the course of doing so, they were circled around by two speed boats. The Chinese coast guard told the Filipinos via their megaphones to leave the place.

"Minemegaphone kami, kinukunan kami ng litrato at video at sinasabi nila, 'This is China Coast Guard.

READ MORE: Finally! Fishermen return to Panatag Shoal

This is a law-enforcement operation. We order you to leave the area immediately'," Zambrano narrated.

(They used their megaphones, took photos and videos of us while saying ‘This is China Coast Guard. This is a law-enforcement operation. We order you to leave the area immediately.)

The Permanent Court of Arbitration issued their ruling Tuesday and rejected the historic claim of China over the place. China, an aggressive country, held the Scarborough Shoal since 2012, causing Filipino fishermen lose their source of living.

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