Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has called upon the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to remove the floating barriers installed by Chinese vessels at Scarborough Shoal, off the coast of Zambales province.
These barriers, discovered during a routine maritime patrol on September 22, were found to be intended to block Filipino fishing boats from their traditional fishing grounds.
Zubiri strongly emphasized that these obstructions are not permitted within the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and pose a significant threat to passing fishing boats, as they can become entangled with the lines, potentially damaging their propellers and engines.
“They have no right to put any structures within our [EEZ and] these structures pose a danger to passing fishing boats that can get entangled with the lines and cause considerable damage to the propellers and engines of [sea vessels],” he told reporters.
Senator Risa Hontiveros joined Zubiri in condemning China’s actions, describing them as a form of cruelty and aggression that should not go unpunished. She warned that allowing China’s bullying to continue could endanger the lives of Filipino fishers.
“China’s cruelty knows no bounds. They have no shame in aggressively blocking our fishermen in our own seas,” she said.
“We should no longer accept acts like this going unpunished. If we allow China’s bullying to continue, it will cost the lives of our own people,” she further warned.
The PCG and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) accused the China Coast Guard of deploying a 300-meter “floating barrier” at Scarborough Shoal to prevent Filipino boats from accessing their traditional fishing grounds.
The Chinese vessels hurriedly installed these barriers upon detecting the presence of BFAR and Filipino fishing vessels in the area.
The PCG has chosen to document the incident for the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea, leaving any potential legal or diplomatic actions to be determined later.
Despite these aggressive actions by China, the Philippines continues to advocate for a peaceful resolution of disputes and adherence to international law in the Indo-Pacific region.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo emphasized the importance of preserving a rules-based global order.
Additionally, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) expressed concern over the reported destruction of coral reefs and marine ecosystems in the West Philippine Sea.
The DENR also highlighted the crucial role of the marine ecosystem in the Kalayaan Island Group in supplying fish and coral larvae to the country and the region, stating its