Duterte says Filipinos may soon fish again in Scarborough Shoal
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday that Filipino fishermen could wait for "a few more days" as they might be able to return to their traditional fishing ground in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in South China Sea.
In a speech in Tuguegarao, Cagayan where he extended assistance to some families displaced by Typhoon "Lawin" (Haima), the Chief Executive said during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, part of their discussion was about how the two countries could further cooperate. Duterte embarked on a four-day state visit to China this week.
"We'll just wait for a few more days. We might return in Scarborough Shoal, the fishing (area) of our citizens," he said.
China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, including Scarborough, which is within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. When the tension ensued between the Philippines and China in 2012, Beijing's coast guard vessels started to patrol the South China Sea. They also began shooing away the Filipino fishermen who used to fish in Scarborough Shoal.
Duterte said if the Filipinos could fish again in the disputed area, he would not allow them to go inside the lagoon in Scarborough Shoal.
He said that lagoon or "fishpond" which serves as the breeding ground of fish should be avoided so that there would be continuous supply of fish in the future.
"The number of Filipinos is increasing, the cheapest thing that they can buy today is the marine product. So it behooves upon us to really not gamble and destroy these pawning grounds because then it would result in imbalance of our food (supply)," Duterte said.
He said as far as he knows, China also ordered its fishermen not to fish in that area. Celerina D. Monte/DMS