By Elena Aben
There are no longer any China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels in the disputed Scarborough Shoal and Filipino fishermen are now able to freely access the area, Malacañang said Friday, October 28.
“Regarding fishing in Scarborough Shoal, for the past three days it has been observed that there are no longer any Chinese Coast Guard vessels and that Filipino fishing boats are no longer being intercepted and that they are now able to fish in the area without being intercepted,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a Palace press briefing.
Abella, however did not disclose how such observation was made and by whom.
This development comes one week after President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to China.
Upon his return from China, Duterte announced that Filipino fishermen may be able to return to the Chinese-held shoal after he discussed the territorial rift with Chinese leaders.
On the other hand, Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque, who was part of the president’s delegation to China, claimed that Manila and Beijing have reached a “modus vivendi” to allow Filipino fishermen to return to the Shoal.
When asked if there was already an agreement reached on the issue during the president’s China trip, Abella clarified: “There’s nothing official regarding that matter. But all we know is based on results, fishermen can now go into those waters.”
President Duterte, in a speech before victims of super typhoon Lawin in Isabela Sunday, said he insisted the Philippines’ ownership of the Scarborough Shoal—locally known as Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc—to the Chinese.
Duterte said he told Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting that he cannot surrender anything in the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea, citing the July 12 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
And while the Chinese leader also insisted his country’s historical rights in the South China Sea, Duterte said they have agreed to resolve the case peacefully, although it will take time.
Tags: China Coast Guard, Chinese coast guards ‘not seen in Scarborough Shoal’, Ernesto Abella, Fishermen, Harry Roque, Malacañang, Manila Bulletin, modus vivendi, Philippine news, Rodrigo Duterte, Scarborough Shoal