By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The reported harassment of Filipino fishermen of by Chinese coast guards may not be enough a basis to file a diplomatic protest against China for its intrusion in the Scarborough Shoal.
This was according to Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who, in a radio interview this afternoon, said he does not see that the recent actions by Chinese patrol vessels in the disputed West Philippines Sea will stand a chance before the international court.
“Wala rin akong nakikitang anong klaseng kaso dun, eh (I don’t see any case over it),” he told DWIZ’s Usapang Senado.
“Kung tutuusin ninakawan ‘yong indibidwal, ‘yong Filipino citizen, eh. Sa alegasyong ganon ha, sa ganong kwento, ninakawan ng isang Chinese citizen ‘yong isang Filipino citizen. These are ‘individual versus an individual’ [cases]. Wala tayong kaso sa international arena kung ganoon lang yung basic facts (Actually, the Filipino citizen was just robbed. In that allegation, a Chinese citizen only stole from a Filipino citizen. These are ‘individual versus an individual’ cases. We will not stand a chance in the international arena if those are merely the basic facts),” he said.
But Pimentel said the Philippine government may still react or protest the incident “on behalf of the Filipino citizen” affected in the incident.
In a documentary by GMA News, patrolling Chinese nationals were caught taking the catch of Filipino fishermen, even their equipment, in the Scarborough Shoal.
The fishers interviewed lamented that this has been the practice of the foreigners when they chance upon them fishing in the said waters, which was declared part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The fishers said they were also threatened by the Chinese coast guards to surrender their catch.
Pimentel, meanwhile, backed the government in saying that it is taking measures to call out the powerful country in its continued activities in the West Philippines Sea.
“Nagpo-protest naman din daw tayo. Hindi lang nila inaanunsyo lahat kasi sensitive ang foreign relations (We are protesting their actions. It’s just that they do not announce it),” Pimentel said as he recalled talking to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano about the matter.
“Kumikilos po ang ating DFA, siguro sa mata ng iba kulang kasi gusto siguro nilang makita ng mundo na kalaban natin ang China (Our DFA is acting on it, maybe it’s just not enough for some who wanted the world to see that we are at war with China),” he added.
Pimentel, an ally of President Duterte, said the government does not want to wage a war with China, especially since the country would be at a disadvantage.
“Under the Duterte administration, we can’t do that. We don’t want to treat China as an enemy and we don’t wan to be treated by China as its enemy” he said in Filipino.
“We are managing our relationship with China but that does not mean that we are not protesting. We are, according to Sec. Cayetano. And I believe him,” he said
He said the public should instead look at the “government-to-government relationship of Philippines and China, which he said, continues to contribute to the country’s trade and economy, and assists in times of calamities.
“Dun tayo tumingin. Hindi iyong may krimen na ginawa ang isang Chinese citizen sa isang Filipino citizen, ibig sabihin, kalaban na agad nating ang China. Hindi po ganoon (Let’s look at that. Just because a Chinese citizen committed a crime against a Filipino citizen, does not mean that we are enemies with China. That’s not the way it works),” he said.