Chinese coast guard bullying off Scarborough: Filipino news crew dispersed

November 23, 2018 - 3:22 PM
A video reportedly taken by a Filipino fisherman in Scarborough showed members of the Chinese coast guard boarding his boat and taking some of his catch. (Philstar/File photo)

Filipinos condemned the continued bullying of the China Chinese Coast Guard against the Philippines after a media outlet recorded how they were shooed away from Scarborough Shoal despite it being within the country’s jurisdiction.

GMA News reported on Thursday, November 22 reported that crew members of its “Reporter’s Notebook” program were involved in a confrontation with Chinese Coast Guard patrol officers while shooting in the area.

A patrol guard can be heard telling journalist Jun Veneracion that the reporters are not allowed to record in the area without the Chinese Coast Guard’s permission.

“If you do not leave here, we will make a forced manner,” the patrol guard told Veneracion.

Veneracion responded by saying that the area where they were shooting was located within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

GMA News explained that they were accompanied by Filipino fishermen who regularly visited the area when they were approached by three vessels from the Chinese Coast Guard. The coast guard members also did not leave the area until the news crew was already “miles away.”

Some Filipinos have also questioned why the news crew was barred from shooting even though Scarborough Shoal was located within the Philippine’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

Maritime dispute

Scarborough Shoal, also known as “Panatag Shoal,” is located 124 nautical miles off the coast of Zambales. The waters around the rock formations in the area have been part of the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China.

The 2012 standoff between Chinese Coast Guard patrol boats and Filipino fishermen paved the way for heightened tensions between the two neighboring countries that culminated in the arbitration case at the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The body ruled in 2016 that the waters around Scarborough, ruled a high-tide elevation, was within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. When it comes to fishing off Scarborough, the international court ruled that both the Philippines and China have rights to conduct fishing activities there.

Despite the ruling, some Filipino fishermen in June 2018 reported that Chinese coast guards in the area continue to seize their catch.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said that it forwarded the complaints to Chinese authorities and would continue to discuss the matter with its counterparts in order to solve the persisting concerns.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has rebuilt diplomatic and economic ties with China, has refrained from enforcing the 2016 ruling.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana at a recent forum related that he planned to send a Philippine Navy contingent to guard the disputed areas after the 2016 ruling was released but shelved the plan after being advised by Duterte against it.