PH defies Chinese ban on fishing in western Philippine Sea – The Manila Times
THE Philippines is urging Filipinos to continue fishing in the West Philippine Sea – an apparent move against China’s declaration of a fishing ban in areas it has claimed in the South China Sea.
National Security Advisor Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said on Wednesday that while the National Task Force for the Western Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) has taken note of Beijing’s unilateral fishing ban, that does not mean that the Philippines will comply.
“The fishing ban does not apply to our fishermen and the NTF-WPS opposes China’s imposition of the same on areas of Philippine territory and jurisdiction,” Esperon said, also chairman of NTF-WPS, in a three-page press release. to journalists.
“The NTF-WPS reiterates that our fishermen are encouraged to go out and fish our waters in the WPS,” he added.
Esperon said the Philippines is “maintaining the deployment” of several patrol ships. Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessels conduct rotational maritime exercises within the Kalayaan Islands Group and the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Esperon said the exercises and maritime patrols were consistent with the exercise of the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights over the western Philippine Sea, “in accordance with the government’s commitment against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing ( IUUF), and to enforce our laws on maritime safety and security and environmental issues. “
In response to the IUUF actions of Chinese vessels in Philippine territory, the Cabinet official said that BFAR is implementing its Integrated Maritime Environment Monitoring System with the aim of monitoring fishing vessels and accounting for catches and fishing landings “to ensure effective and efficient fishing. management.”
In addition to the Philippine Coast Guard and BFAR, Esperon said they would be joined by the Philippine National Police Maritime Group.
Esperon added that the task force condemns “in the strongest terms” the “violation of our sovereignty” by the Chinese Coast Guard against BRP Gabriela Silang and BRP Sindangan of the PCG, who have conducted maintenance patrols. order and maritime exercises at Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) in April.
This incident prompted the Foreign Ministry (DFA) to file a diplomatic protest against China.
Besides Bajo de Masinloc, Esperon said government maritime patrols would also cover Pag-asa (Thitu) I: sland and its neighboring sandbars which he admitted responded to “claims that the Philippines has ‘lost’ this characteristic that is part of our territory.
During the last week of April, Esperon said the coast guard vessel BRP Cabra, along with two BFAR vessels, visited Sabina Shoal, located 130 nautical miles west of the town of Puerto Princesa, in Palawan and east of Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, for the purpose of maritime patrols and exercises.
He revealed that the coast guard had spotted seven Chinese ships, which they called maritime militia ships, “nested or in linear formation stationary at Sabina Shoal.”
“The crew of BRP Cabra issued a series of challenges to the offending ships, but did not elicit any response from the CMM (Chinese Maritime Militia Ships). After about 20 minutes, however, the MWC ships dispersed and left the bench after being stopped by BRP Cabra, ”Esperon said.
After two days, the PCG ship returned to Sabina Shoal where five Chinese ships had remained. Upon arrival of BRP Cabra, Esperon said the Chinese ships “had left the area”.
“The NTF-WPS emphasizes that the regular maritime exercises and patrols conducted by the PCG and BFAR are part of the maritime law enforcement activities of its member agencies in the exercise of Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights over our territorial seas and our EEZ, respectively, ”noted Esperon.
“The Philippines is not deterred from standing up for our national interest, our heritage and our dignity as a people with all that we have. Thus, the conduct of law enforcement patrols and maritime exercises in the WPS and the municipality of Kalayaan by the PCG and BFAR will continue according to the President’s instructions, ”he added.