PHL to continue documenting Panatag shoal ‘destruction’

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III aboard BRP Ang Pangulo to lead the 70th Memorial Commemoration of the Fall of Corregidor (Day of Courage) at the Dome Altar, Pacific War Memorial, Topside, Corregidor Island Sunday May 06, 2012. Corregidor Island, also known as “The Rock”, earned the distinction as the stumbling block of the Japanese Imperial Army to completely annihilate the Allied Forces in 1942 in the Pacific. Had it not been for Corregidor Island’s tenacious defense, Australia would have been overrun by the Japanese that would deprive Gen. MacArthur’s regrouping of forces to mount counter-attacks two (2) years later. It is one of the most dramatic and historical landmarks in the Pacific, geographically located in the Luzon Area west of capital city Manila (MNS photo)

MANILA, May 5 (Mabuhay) – Philippine authorities will continue to document the alleged destruction of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal by the activities of Chinese fishermen, but will not do anything to escalate the tension there, Malacañang said Saturday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Coast Guard will patrol the area to protect Filipino fishermen who will venture there.

“Ang commitment natin hindi mag-escalate ang tension, it will not be to anyone’s benefit kung gagawa tayo ng bagay na mag-escalate ang tension sa Panatag Shoal,” Valte said on government-run dzRB radio.

She said the Department of Foreign Affairs will continue to head the Philippines’ diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation.

The row started early April when Philippine military forces spotted Chinese fishermen taking marine species from the shoal, which China also claims and refers to as Huangyan Island.

Before a Philippine Navy crew could make arrests, Chinese vessels blocked its path.

For now, Valte said, the Coast Guard will continue to patrol the area, and document incidents such as the alleged destruction of the shoal by Chinese fishermen.

Earlier, the Coast Guard said there is evidence Chinese fishing vessels are involved in illegal fishing and may be destroying the shoal with their activities.

Coast Guard commandant Vice Admiral Edmund Tan said photos and videos they obtained indicated illegal fishing and trawling, which had discolored the seabed. (MNS)

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