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Thursday, May 23, 2024

NSC blasts latest Chinese moves

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The National Security Council (NSC) on Monday condemned the Chinese Coast Guard for its latest harassment of Filipino fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) and urged Beijing to match its actions with its promises in talks with Manila.

“Our appeal to China is that this 2024, they should match with action on the ground what our governments have discussed,” said NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya. “And moving forward, that we are able to implement our agreements, because it is not in the interest of the Philippines, nor with China for tensions to go up this 2024.”

Malaya’s remarks came after the Philippines Coast Guard reported that the Chinese Coast Guard tried to chase off Filipino fishermen and asked them to return their collected seashells.

The fishermen had safely returned to their home, Malaya said.

Earlier this month, foreign ministries from the Philippines and China agreed to de-escalate the tension in the region and improve maritime communication mechanisms.

The two parties agreed to continue dialogue to keep peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Earlier, PCG Spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, Commodore Jay Tarriela said that they have tracked the origin of the videos circulating online which showed personnel from the CCG halting Filipino fishermen after they were spotted collecting sea shells in the area.

“The PCG have successfully identified the origin of the videos and have taken steps to gather sworn statements from the individuals involved,” said Tarriela.

“Mr. Jack Tabat from Zambales, has admitted that the video came from their boat, FB Legendary Jo. According to his statement, on Jan. 12, 2024, Filipino fishermen who were collecting sea shells near the south entrance of BDM experienced harassment from the China Coast Guard. The fishermen were instructed to return the shells they had gathered to the sea and were subsequently driven away.”

Based on Tabat’s testimony, five CCG personnel on board a rubber boat approached them and four of them disembarked the rubber boat and went after the Filipino fishermen.

“He also documented one Chinese Coast Guard personnel grabbing the fishing boat and preventing it from departing unless the fishermen threw back their gathered sea shells into the sea,” said Tarriela.

“Currently, the PCG is awaiting the arrival of the fishing vessel this evening, which was subjected to the China Coast Guard’s harassment. We intend to gather testimonies from the fishermen as well.”

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea and has ignored an international tribunal ruling that its assertions have no legal basis.

They also deploy their boats to patrol the busy waterway and have built several illegally erected artificial islands that it has militarized to reinforce its claims.

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