A fisherfolk group on Saturday, Aug. 7, has called on the Chinese government to respect the rights of Filipino fishermen, after Filipino fishers and authorities rescued two distressed Chinese fishermen off the coast of Palawan last week.
The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) made the call, as the Chinese Embassy in Manila expressed its “deep appreciation” to the Filipino fishers and authorities for the rescue of two Chinese fishermen on Aug. 5.
In response to the Chinese Embassy’s statement, Pamalakaya said that “gratitude is not enough if the act of kindness demonstrated by Filipino fishers will not be reciprocated with the same humane treatment.”
“Beijing should instead be ashamed of itself for after all the harassment it has done to Filipinos in our territorial waters, our fishers are never capable of the same hostile and cruel actions,” said Bobby Roldan, Pamalakaya vice chair for Luzon in a statement.
Roldan, a fisherman from Zambales, recalled the Recto Bank incident where a Chinese vessel rammed and abandoned the F/B Gem-Ver1, a Filipino fishing boat manned by 22 fishermen, off Mindoro on June 9, 2019.
The fisherfolk leader also noted the “consistent fishing blockade” by Chinese Coast Guard vessels to Filipino fishers who attempt to venture into Panatag Shoal.
Located 124-nautical miles off the Masinloc, Zambales, the shoal provides fishing shelter for the Filipino fishers in times of bad weather.
He earlier said that Zambales fishers have abandoned their traditional fishing grounds due to presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels that drive them away from entering the shoal.
“Ang mga nabanggit naming karahasan na sinasapit ng mga Pilipinong mangingisda sa kamay ng China sa West Philippine Sea ay hindi panunumbat, kundi isang paalala na ang mga kagayang pagtrato ay hinding-hindi naming kayang gawin sa kapwa namin mangingisda anuman ang lahi nito o sa gitna ng umiiral na tensyon sa pagitan ng aming mga bansa (The said abuse suffered by Filipino fishermen at the hands of China in the West Philippine Sea is not a reproach, but a reminder that we can never afford to inflict such treatment to our fellow fishermen regardless of race or ethnicity, or existing tension between our countries),” Roldan said.
“Higit sa lahat, ito ay paalala sa China na irespeto nila ang karapatan ng mga Pilipinong mangingisda sa inaangkin nilang teritoryo, kagaya nang maayos naming pagtrato sa mga mangingisda nila na kung tutuusin ay iligal na pumapasok sa aming karagatan (Most of all, it is a reminder to China that they should respect the rights of Filipino fishermen to fish in their claimed territory, just as how we treat their fishermen who are in fact illegally entering our seas),” he added.