Military reports no harassment, challenges from China in WPS
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) did not monitor any harassment and challenges from China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), a military official said on Sunday.
"We do not received or heard report that there are Chinese harassment against fishermen. Our fishermen are still there in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) or West Philippine Sea," said Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez, head of the AFP Western Command and commander of Area Task Force West, said in a radio interview.
"We were not able to deploy airplanes lately because of the bad weather condition but for the past week, our aircraft flew three times and we did not encounter any challenge," he said.
"We do not expect that they will stop because it is like their defense in what we call their intrusion within our waters. Nevertheless, what we will do is to continue to report and tell the whole world that we do not honor their authority in that area. We will not stop," he added.
However, Enriquez mentioned the current challenges that the government are trying to address so that more Filipinos will be able to fish in the West Philippine Sea.
''The challenge that we faced here in Palawan is how can we encourage more Filipino fishermen to go to the West Philippine Sea because most fishermen told us 'why do we have to go too far? If we can catch fish in nearby areas, why do we need to spend more gasoline?," he said.
Enriquez said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is looking at possible crude oil subsidies for fishermen while the national government is constructing a sheltered port in Pagasa Island in case of bad weather.
He said the government is also planning to construct sheltered ports in other Islands occupied by the Philippines in the Kalayaan Island Group to help Filipino fishermen.
"The BFAR is presently constructing an ice storage or ice production unit in Pagasa Island to help the fishermen preserve their catch ," said Enriquez.
"Once it is developed we will have a chance to encourage additional fishermen to come in the area because we can maintain the freshness of their fish. We continue our effort to encourage them to fish in the area to show to our people that we have ... sovereignty or the fishing rights that we claim in the KIG or in the waters off the municipality of Kalayaan," he added. Robina Asido/DMS