Chinese coast guards share food with Pinoy fishermen

MANILA, Philippines - Instead of driving away Filipino fishermen from Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal, Chinese coast guards shared food and cigarettes with Pinoy fisher folks.

A new beginning for the former enemies

Wilson Almadin, a 41-year-old fisherman told Inquirer: “Chinese Coast Guard vessels approached the boats of our fellow fishermen but only to share their food, liquor and cigarettes.”

According to Almadin, Filipino fishermen also shared some of their catch with the Chinese Coast Guards.

Although four Chinese Coast Guard Vessels were still patrolling around the area, they didn’t seem to mind the presence of the Filipinos.

Chinese Coast Guards Panatag Shoal
A new beginning for the former enemies. PHOTO CREDIT:
Such scenario was impossible several months ago. Since 2012, Chinese Coast Guards would bombard Filipino fishermen with water cannons or block their paths if they attempt to enter the traditional fishing ground rich in marine resources.

However, after President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with Chinese authorities during his state visit at the country last month, tension at the disputed area seemed to have eased up.

Last week, it was reported that several fishermen were not prevented from exercising their fishing rights in the shoal located 240 kilometres from the coastline of Zambales.

“We’re now free to fish around the shoal. There’s no tension there …. As long as we will be allowed to stay and fish around the shoal, I think we can coexist with the Chinese Coast Guard,” Almadin said.

Pinoy fisher folks bring home their harvest from Scarborough Shoal
Pinoy fisher folks bring home their harvest from Scarborough Shoal. PHOTO CREDIT: Inquirer
After a two-month standoff over the Scarborough shoal which started in April 2012, the Chinese Coast Guards began building up its presence at the shoal and barred Pinoy fisher folks. In spite of the unanimous July 12 ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in favor of the Philippines, China refused to accept the decision and continued blocking Filipino fishermen.

Pinoy fisherfolks believe they can fish as much as 10,000 tons of fish such as yellow fin tuna, talakitok, blue marlin, skipjack and red grouper from the triangular chain of reefs and rocks surrounding a lagoon.

--Mini, The Summit Express

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