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Monday, July 22, 2024

NSC to probe Chinese fishermen using cyanide at Masinloc shoal

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Authorities are looking into a report that Chinese fishermen were allegedly using cyanide to destroy the resource-rich Bajo de Masinloc and prevent Filipinos from fishing in the area.

National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said that while the council was “alarmed” over the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) report, there was a need to validate the claims further.

The official said he requested the BFAR to complete the documentation that it has taken—including affidavits—which will then be turned over to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea.

“We will investigate this report,” Malaya said.

Once validated, Malaya said they would forward the report to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General, which is preparing a case against China for environmental degradation.

“The challenge dito is to prove the responsibility for the coral degradation and the impact to the environment is coming from these specific people,” Malaya, quoted by ABS-CBN News, said.

BFAR Chief Information Officer Nazario Briguera recently claimed that as a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, China was committing a violation with its deliberate destruction of the Bajo de Masinloc, which “undermines the sustainability not just of our waters but of the whole world.”

The NSC meanwhile encouraged Filipino fishermen to continue fishing near Bajo de Masinloc, citing the country’s right to the area as part of its territory.

“That is Philippine territory and let’s strengthen the presence of our government through the Coast Guard, through the BFAR, and, of course, the regular patrols of the Philippine Navy to show to the whole world, especially to those causing trouble for us there,” Malaya said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. recently directed concerned agencies to maintain the country’s maritime presence following provocations and aggressive behavior from Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

Following the President order’s, NSC said the increase of patrol vessels in the area.

On the possibility of China’s use of cyanide to block Filipino fishermen, Malaya said an investigation would be needed to confirm the allegations.

The BFAR reported that there were foreign vessels using cyanide to intentionally destroy the marine environment in the Scarborough Shoal, a fish-rich atoll inside the West Philippine Sea.


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