Fisherfolk worry about China’s new Coast Guard Law

Published January 25, 2021, 4:14 PM

by Raymund Antonio

An alliance of fishermen is concerned on China’s decision to pass a law that allows its coast guard to fire on fire foreign vessels as the group asserted the country’s sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea.

Militant fishers’ group Pamalakaya called the China’s Coast Guard Law as a “severe measure,” which it said the Philippine government should “publicly and strongly” denounce for its impact to local fishermen.

China has passed a law that empowers its coast guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.”

The Coast Guard Law was passed on Friday amid China’s massive claim in the disputed maritime area.

“Chinese coast guards can just shoot anyone, armed or unarmed, in territorial waters that they illegally claim and  occupy courtesy of this newly passed law,” Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap said in a statement.

“This is a serious threat to Filipino fishers who would be conducting fishing expedition in our very own territorial waters,” he noted.

The group asserted that the measure “contradicts the principle of freedom of navigation recognized by international maritime law.”

“The Coast Guard Law was obviously part of strengthening China’s naval forces to swarm the West Philippine Sea,” Hicap said, adding it’s “virtually a declaration of war” against other claimant countries.