Filipino fishermen brave sailing to Panatag Shoal despite the bullying to catch high-value fish but the China Coast Guard has been depriving them of their income by taking their catch and by preventing them from entering the shoal.
Latagen said they don't always have a good catch because they're only allowed to fish around the shoal and only for two to 3 months in a year. He said the Chinese fishermen, who even destroy corals, are allowed to fish year-round.
Angelico Pilon and Rolly Bernal said they should be allowed inside the shoal to enjoy better catch and to be able to take refuge there during storms.
Not all fishermen complained. There were those who didn't mind giving fish to the Chinese and described them as nice, kind, and helpful.
Joey Togonon said the Chinese can also be unpredictable. He said the China Coast Guard once ordered them to stay away but there was also a time that they were helpful.
Commodore Nichols Driz, Commander of the Naval Forces North Luzon, said the fishermen's complaints and suggestions will inform government actions to help them. (READ: PH military encourages fishermen to return to Scarborough)
There are not concrete commitments, however.
Driz said closer interaction among the fishermen and other concerned government agencies like the Philippine Navy, the Coast Guard, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and concerned local government units (LGUs) will help in crafting appropriate policies.
Zambales Governor Amor Deloso welcomed the dialogue. He said fishing is an important livelihood that he will protect by refusing to allow big industries to operate along the provincial coast lines.
He said the provincial government will also continue to support the fishermen affected by the situation. – Rappler.com