Order from nat’l gov’t needed for removal of China’s floating barrier — PCG
September 25, 2023 | 2:12pm
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard cannot remove a floating barrier installed by China at Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) without authorization from the national government, an official said Monday.
Senators and fishers’ group PAMALAKAYA called for the removal of the 300-meter barrier that prevents Filipino fisherfolk from accessing their traditional fishing grounds.
Commodore Jay Tarriela, spokesperson of the PCG for the West Philippine Sea, said in an interview with TeleRadyo Serbisyo that the Coast Guard needs to secure clearance from the foreign affairs and justice departments, and seek guidance from National Security Adviser Eduardo Año.
The NSA chairs the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, whose members include DFA, DOJ and PCG.
The country needs to be careful to avoid “diplomatic misstep,” the Coast Guard official said.
“If we already have guidance from the NTF-WPS and the president, who serves as our commander-in-chief, the PCG and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, with the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will do whatever it takes to carry out the directives of the national government as ordered by our president,” Tarriela said in Filipino.
PCG and BFAR personnel discovered the barrier during a distribution of food supplies and fuel subsidies to Filipino fishers at Bajo de Masinloc off Zambales province last week.
According to Tarriela, Filipino fishers have observed that the China Coast Guard typically installs floating barriers when they monitor a large number of fishermen in the area.
In a statement Monday, PAMALAKAYA said that the Coast Guard or the Philippine Navy should remove the barrier as it is against international law.
“The Marcos administration must go beyond lodging diplomatic protests and take necessary steps to have these nuisance floating objects immediately removed from our territorial waters,” said Bobby Roldan, vice chair for Luzon of PAMALAKAYA.
“This recent dastardly act by the Chinese government will further impede our fishing activities, and consequently affect our fishing production,” Roldan added.
The group previously reported that Filipino fishers have suffered a 70% reduction in income per fishing trip since China increased its presence at Bajo de Masinloc during the Duterte administration.
Beijing claims the majority of the South China Sea, despite an arbitration ruling in 2016 declaring this assertion has no legal basis.