Filipinos mull to sail to China-grabbed Scarborough Shoal
By Mortz C. Ortigoza
DAGUPAN CITY – The leaders of the National Movement for Food Sovereignty (NMFS) and the Green Peace are mulling to sail to the disputed Scarborough Reef even without the permission of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Iza Gonzales of the NMFS said the plan is for a fact finding mission for Filipino fishermen who are banned by the Chinese navy from fishing in the reef.
“Isa po itong hakbang para alamin na mga mangingisda natin sa Pangasinan ay wala ng nahuhuli. Pumapalaot po sila pero pagdating sa laot tinataboy sila. Malaki ang problema (This is a step to inquire why fishermen in Pangasinan have no catch anymore. They go to the high sea but the Chinese drive them away. That is a big problem),” Gonzales said.
Gonzales was recently brought here by the Green Peace to drum up the threat from the Chinese and the poor state of Filipino fishermen.
Green Peace is an organization that protects and conserves the environment.
What prompted Gonzales to participate in a fact finding mission was because fishermen in Alaminos City and Infanta in Pangasinan and in Santa Cruz and Masinloc in Zambales are suffering.
The fish-rich shoal is only 240 kilometers from Masinloc and 947 kilometers from the nearest Chinese island Hainan.
She said fishermen in Zambales plan to stage a protest because they have been hurting since 2012.
She said fishermen in Alaminos City are relegated to servicing the tourists in the overcrowded industry there.
“Just like fishermen in Zambales, Alaminos fishermen could no longer catch fish because of the Chinese,” she said.
The Scarborough Shoal standoff between China and the Philippines began on April 8, 2012 over the Philippine Navy apprehension of eight mainland Chinese fishing vessels in the disputed territory.
Before this problem spawned into immeasurable proportions, the Philippines agreed that year to withdraw her Navy ship Pampanga as the Chinese did the same. But the latter breached the agreement thus the presence of her navy and coast guard ships there now.
According to Green Peace, the fishing industry employs an estimated 1.6 million in the country.
Its contribution to the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of PhP 12,643 billion at current prices is 1.6 % or Php 197.1 billion. At constant prices, the fishing industry’s contribution to GDP of Php 7,164 billion is 1.8 % or Php 130.5 billion.
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