MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) –Senator and vice presidential bet Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Thursday the government should consistently deploy Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy in the West Philippine Sea to ensure the safety and livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk and food security in the country.

Pangilinan said he was recently in touch with fisherfolk in Scarborough Shoal, a common fishing ground located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

The senator said they told him they cannot go to the rich fishing area at the moment, fearing that Chinese ships would harass them since the Coast Guard and Navy personnel are not around.

“Our Coast Guard and Navy should be consistently on patrol para panatag ang loob ng ating mga mangingisda na mangisda. Wala [ito] ngayon, o hindi nila halos makita, kaya hanggang municipal waters lang sila,” he said.

“Dapat lumabas ang ating Coast Guard at Navy, paulit ulit na magpatrol kasi dati noong nariyan sila, ang kita ng mga mangingisda, P10,000 kada byahe at nakakabyahe sila ng tatlo, apat sa isang buwan. Ngayon, P2,000 hanggang P3,000 na lang ang kita nila sa isang buwan kasi overfished na iyong malapit na coastal waters,” Pangilinan added.

The senator then said that under a Leni Robredo presidency, the government will provide support to fisherfolk by giving them bigger vessels so they can sail farther and catch more fish.

“With bigger vessels, they will be able to catch more fish and earn more,” Pangilinan added.

In July 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration junked China’s nine-dash line or claim of the entire South China Sea and ruled that the Spratly Islands, Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, and Recto (Reed) Bank are within the Philippine EEZ.

China, however, did not participate in this process and has since refused to recognize the court ruling.

In November 2021, the Chinese coast guard fired water cannons at two Philippine vessels en route to supply troops aboard BRP Sierra Madre stationed in Ayungin Shoal.

This action by China was reminiscent of the April 2012 incident wherein Chinese forces also fired water cannons at Filipino fishing boats in Scarborough Shoal.

This 2012 Scarborough standoff prompted the Philippines to sue China before the Hague court.(MNS)

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