“Talagang tinitwist ng Malacanang at binbaliktad at nililinglang ang taong-bayan sa tunay na kalagayan ng ating mga mangingisda sa West Philippine Sea.”
This is the reaction of Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano amid Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque claims that Filipino fishermen are not being harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard near Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
During a press conference last June 11 in the Presidential Palace, Roque presented three Filipino fishermen whose catch were taken by alleged members of the Chinese Coast Guard.
A footage of the incident was shown by a television network.
The fishermen claimed that they were not being harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard, but admitted that they are seizing the best catch of the Filipino fishermen in the disputed territory, also called South China Sea.
Roque said that noodles, cigarettes and water are being given to the fishermen in exchange for the fish, and added that harassment incidents only happened during the administration of former President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III.
According to Alejano, the public is not receiving information on the ground since it is being obstructed, and local fishermen are already exhausted and afraid of bringing their complaints to the government.
“Wala tayong halos marinig diyan dahil yung information sa ground ay hindi nilalabas,” Alejano said.
“Ang ating mga mangingisda ay parang nag-sawa na rin, takot na rin sa pag-sasabi sa ating gobyerno, eh wala naman sistema, wala naman silang alam na susungbungan sa gobyerno,” Alejano added.
The congressman revealed that this report is no longer new to him, and that the incident is not isolated.
Alejano explained that all Filipinos coming from Scarborough Shoal has to pass through a ‘toll gate’, where the Chines Coast Guard to enter the fishing ships and take a portion of the catch.
“Kahit anung sabihin mo na parang malaya ka raw na makapag-ngisda doon, at pinag-bigyan lamang. The fact na masama ang loob mo at hindi ka makapag-salita, iyan ay hindi malaya. Parang kontrolado ng China ang lahat ng galaw doon,” Alejano said.
The lawmaker also denounced that the incident is a barter between Filipino fishermen, and the Chinese Coast Guard since, most of the time, Chinese nationals are not swapping the fish for items.
Alejano added that the Chinese are not trading items that have the same financial value as the seized fish.
“Hindi naman kada-kuha ay pinapalitan. Minsan-minsan ang sinasabi doon,” Alejano said.
Alejano further insisted that the current situation should not be compared with the state of Filipino fishermen during the Aquino Administration since a different policy is being implemented.
Meanwhile, Roque has already announced that they have already addressed the issue to Chinese government.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhou Jianhua promised to discipline members of the Chinese Coast Guard if they are proven to have harassed Filipino fishermen.
“So we always have bad apples but if we have bad apples, you know what I’m going to do, I’m going to throw into the South China Sea and feed to the fish,” Zhao said.