Senate bet urges gov't action on reported Chinese ships in Pag-asa Island
An opposition senatorial candidate has urged the government on to act on the reported presence of Chinese vessels in Pag-asa Island.
'' I urge the Duterte administration to act on the rising number of Chinese vessels around Pag-asa Island and protest against China's illegal actions,'' said Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano in a statement on Saturday.
''China is establishing a norm there which we cannot alter later on. Every day is a wasted opportunity to assert our sovereignty if we do not act now,'' said Alejano, a former Marine captain.
ABS-CBN reported the presence of Chinese ships in Pag-asa Island, quoting an official of the military's Western Command.
Alejano's comment came after fellow opposition senatorial bet Neri Colmenares claimed Filipino fishermen were being harassed by Chinese at the Bajo de Masinloc, Zambales.
The military said there are no reports of harassment in the area but the head of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ( BFAR) said it would be better to avoid the area.
BFAR National Director Eduardo Gongona, in a radio interview Saturday, advised fishermen to avoid going in the Bajo de Masinloc for now.
"Let’s refrain from going there for the meantime, and concentrate on our municipal waters because that is where we catch fish,” Gongona said.
He told fishermen to be careful, adding the area is not a major source of fish.
The military's Northern Luzon Command appealed to politicians to not use the issue of West Philippine Sea just to “suit their own benefit”.
Lt. General Emmanuel Salamat. NolCom commander, made the statement after Colmenares in his campaign video showed the harassment experienced by Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, particularly at the Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal.
“NolCom aims to clarify the intriguing issues which were mentioned without proper substantiation as viewed from his campaign video. Issues like the presence of China's dredging ship and Chinese harassments of Filipino fishermen in Zambales were heavily highlighted in the video,” Salamat said in a statement Friday.
“We appeal to politicians should not exploit sensitive issues such as the West Philippine Sea issue if they are not backed by a solid foundation and proper confirmation, just to suit their own benefit. Such action could cause undue alarm to the public and may affect our credibility as a nation once proven false, which is unnecessary,” said Salamat. Ella Dionisio/DMS