No harassment of fishermen near Pagasa –Wescom chief

Published January 31, 2021, 5:12 PM

by Aaron Recuenco 

A military official disputed on Sunday the claim of a fisherman that he was harassed by Chinese authorities near Kalayaan Island which is located in the disputed area of the West Philippine Sea.
Navy Rear Admiral Ramil Enriquez, commander of the Western Command, said fisherman Larry Hugo may have perceived that he was being blocked to go to one of the sandbars near the Kalayaan Group of Island with the presence of a Chinese Coast Guard ship near the area.
“When we enlarged a photo from the video which he posted in his Facebook account, we noticed that there is no movement of the water which we normally see when a ship is moving. This means that Chinese ship was not moving during that time,” said Enriquez in an interview over dzBB.
The videos taken by Hugo were reported in several media entities and became the subject of another round of intense criticisms on the government’s failure to protect fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
Netizens also lambasted the military for picking on colleges and universities in its campaign against communist insurgency when the real enemy, according to them, is in the West Philippine Sea.
Enriquez said they immediately conducted an investigation regarding the incident that happened on January 25 this year but was reported to the authorities the following day.
Part of the investigation is the deployment of probers to personally talk to Hugo regarding the incident.
Enriquez said that based on their investigation, there have been no reports of harassment on Filipino fishermen for more than a year now.
But he admitted that some fishermen have decided not to go in the area due to the continuous presence of Chinese ships in the area.
“Maybe there was a false impression but we assure them that our troops remain stationed in Pagasa and even other areas that we occupy,” said Enriquez.
But he called on the fishermen to immediately report any cases of harassment in the West Philippine Sea for proper action.