By Raymund Antonio
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Monday said everyone is allowed to visit the contested Panatag Shoal in Zambales.
PCG Spokesman Captain Armand Balilo said there is no policy that prohibits people from going to the Panatag Shoal.
He explained that the boat captains would just have to inform the PCG station about their planned trip.
“They should coordinate so in case of emergency the PCG would know how many needs to be rescued and who are these people,” said Balilo.
The PCG spokesman issued the statement after Otso Diretso senatorial candidate and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano formally wrote the PCG to request for permission to go to the shoal.
The letter, dated April 13, was addressed to PCG commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino.
“Sir, the PCA ruling in 2016 clearly stated that the Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground of Filipino and Chinese fishermen, hence, both of our fishermen can fish there. However, our local media has reported otherwise, which, if left unchecked would greatly undermine our people’s rights to the resources found there,” his letter reads.
“I trust that the clearance would also absolve any fishermen or groups of fishermen from any liability for assisting us in the said trip, except if, during the trip, they perform prohibited acts contrary to established maritime laws which your office strictly overseas,” Alejano said.