Zambales fishermen advised to avoid fishing in Panatag Shoal amid UN tribunal ruling

IBA, Zambales, July 17 (PNA) — Fishermen, numbering to some 3,000 in this province, were cautioned against fishing in the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) despite a favorable ruling given to the Philippines by an arbitration court in The Hague, Netherlands, rejecting China’s claims over the disputed waters.

The landmark decision was handed down last Tuesday by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), ruling that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.

Zambales Governor Amor Deloso, however, cautioned that the court’s ruling, although a decisive win for the Philippines, may escalate the ongoing tension and could also backfire on the fishermen who have been repeatedly harassed by Chinese coast guards stationed at Scarborough until recently when the new leadership have initiated talks with the Chinese for a peaceful settlement over the issue.

“As governor of the province, I cannot do anything about it because it is beyond my domain… because we do not have firearms here, Deloso told Philippines News Agency (PNA) when asked of the provincial government’s plan of action on the fishermen following the court’s decision.

“But the lives of our fishermen are of paramount importance that is why I have repeatedly advised them not to fish until its free to do so,” the governor added.

According to Deloso, it remains to be seen if China will unleash a defiant reaction to the ruling.

And should it turn out that way, he lamented that the country specifically Zambales, could be the easiest target for hostilities.

On top of the issuance of precaution, Deloso said the provincial government is currently working double time to ensure the provision of jobs and other alternative livelihood for the fishermen.

The governor said that will also allocate of funds for other programs that will benefit the fishermen and their families. Mahatma Datu/PNA/