- The Mayor of Kalayaan claimed that Filipino fishermen were blocked from getting near the sandbars close to Thitu Island
- However, it was clarified that there was not harassment that happened
- The official insisted that the presence of the Chinese boats were affecting the fishermen
Chinese vessels were seen driving away Filipino fishermen from the sandbars close to the Pag-asa Island or internationally known as Thitu Island in the South China Sea.
KAMI learned that a Philippine official claimed that there were about a dozen of Chinese vessels in the Philippine-occupied Pag-Asa Island last January 31 and they increased up until February 2.
“When I stayed there from Jan. 11 up to Feb. 2, their number increased. I counted around 50 vessels on the left side of the island…," said Mayor Roberto del Mundo of Kalayaan. Kalayaan is a town in Palawan where Pag-asa is administered.
According to a report by the Inquirer, Del Mundo said that the mere presence of the Chinese boats was affecting the Filipino fishermen. He mentioned that unlike before, the Chinese vessel would immediately approach them and deny them access.
However, Del Mundo clarified that there was no harassment that happened. He said that he was just confused why the Chinese won't allow them to go near the sandbars when it is "supposed to be ours."
Del Mundo shared his frustration because the Philippines won the arbitration case over the country’s sovereign right to fish and explore in the West Philippine Sea.
“It’s ours. We are the ones supposed to be chasing them away, but it’s the other way around. We should be the ones driving them away [because] it’s ours, but we can’t do anything about it,” Del Mundo insisted.
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