Filipino fishermen harassed by Chinese Coast Guard

MANILA –- Chinese Coast Guard vessels continue to harass Filipino fishermen at Bajo de Masinloc in the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS), the Philippine Coast Guard reported.

In a press release of the National Security Council-Task Force WPS, the PCG reported that on Sept. 6, 2016, three China Coast Guard vessels were sighted at Bajo de Masinloc.

Also spotted in the area were two Filipino fishing bancas, according to the PCG.08 30 - boat fisherman

“The Chinese Coast Guard Vessel moved to the location of a Filipino banca. Upon reaching the Filipino banca, a Chinese Coast Guard personnel onboard a rubber boat ordered the Filipino banca to leave the area,” the PCG said in its report.

During that time, the crew of the Filipino banca was haggling with the Chinese Coast Guard personnel to let them stay in the area to fish.

At the same time, another rubber boat from Chinese Coast Guard was launched and it headed towards the location of the Filipino fishing bancas. The Filipino fishing bancas refused to leave the area.

During that time, the captain of the Filipino banca signaled his crew members to return to their mother boat.

After these skirmishes, PCG operatives spotted another Filipino banca approaching Bajo de Masinloc.

“When the Filipino banca was around 3 nautical miles from Bajo de Masinloc, it was blocked by the Chinese Coast Guard. The Filipino banca outmaneuvered the Chinese Coast Guard vessel. Two Chinese rubber boats were deployed to intercept the Filipino banca from reaching Bajo de Masinloc. The Chinese rubber boats eventually disengaged and went back to their respective mother boats,” the PCG reported.

The three Filipino bancas were able to stay at Bajo de Masinloc for the night but they left in the morning for fear of harassment by the Chinese Coast Guard vessels.

On Sept. 7, 2016, the PCG monitored a People’s Liberation Army Navy vessel patrolling the vicinity 17 of Bajo de Masinloc.

On Sept. 10, 2016, while anchored at Bajo de Masinloc, PCG operatives sighted a Chinese Coast Guard vessel near the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc.

The PCG reported the Chinese Coast Guard vessel moved closer to the position of the Filipino banca. The Chinese Coast Guard vessel launched a rubber boat and encircled the banca.

A number of the Chinese Coast Guard personnel were seen taking photos and videos. The Filipino banca decided to leave the area to avoid further harassment.

Last month, Pres. Duterte called on Beijing to let the Filipino fishermen, most of them poor, to fish in the WPS which is a traditional fishing ground of Filipinos.