Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista on Monday accused China of firing water cannons at Filipino fishermen to shoo them out of the disputed shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
“The Chinese Coast Guard tried to drive away Filipino fishing vessels to the extent of using water cannon,” Bautista said in a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.
However, Bautista did not say if any of the fishermen was hurt.
He said the fishermen were able to report the incident to authorities, while confirming that the armed Chinese Coast Guard remains in the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), a rich fishing ground off Zambales province in the West Philippine Sea.
Bautista also vowed to protect the fishermen against Chinese “terror or intimidation” in the disputed area.
“Our fishermen will continue on fishing, assert their rights on those areas. They should go on with their lives and live their life as fishermen, not to bow down to terror or intimidation,” Bautista said.
The Philippines and China have been contesting the claims for the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.
It was recalled that the two countries figured in a standoff in April 2012.
After the incident, the Philippines appealed to the United Nations (UN) for the “bullish” tactics of China.