The business of poaching-A A +A
As I See It
Friday, July 6, 2012
THE bullying and the occupation issue between China and the Philippines will not die yet. Very soon, it will give birth to related issues. Just wait. Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile was correct when he said that our country lacks the military muscle to defend its territory.
I smiled when the Armed Forces of the Philippines issued a statement that it will support and coordinate with the Philippine Coast Guard in protecting our fishermen who would want to fish in the Scarborough Shoal area. If the protection was not given in the past, there is no assurance that the AFP and the PCG can do it now. Ambitious China is never scared. It is not afraid of our government’s drama of having Phil-US troop war exercises in the Mindanao Sea, not even of the spy plane requested by PNoy from Uncle Sam.
If China can afford to send astronauts into space and stake a claim on part of the galaxy (just like in Star Wars), there is no reason why the Chinese cannot control a part of our planet. Uncle Sam cannot just stop China. China and the US are business partners. They can only create a “stage show of conflict” but business will go on as usual. It’s fun to be that way. If the Filipinos will join the show, we can be funny.
The Chinese are here because they believe that the South China Sea is theirs. Long before the Scarborough Shoal stand-off, Chinese fishermen were already here in our fishing grounds like treasure hunters raiding our national marine parks and trespassing our protected areas and forbidden zones. Our Tubbataha Reefs National Park, a UN World Heritage Site and DENR protected area, is not even an exemption.
Hong Kong-registered vessels have already explored our sanctuaries, catching our Napoleon wrasses (mameng), groupers (lapulapu) and red snappers (mayamaya). The “illegal fishermen” from China were bringing with them air compressors to keep the fish alive. When apprehended by our authority, the Chinese had a variety of reasons to evade imprisonment. Our Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is also equipped with implementing guidelines, but in the long run China will win.
The intruders have always had a way to evade law. It’s painful to say, but the Chinese have the money and the right connections. If Tubbataha in the Sulu Sea could be raided, there is no reason why the Chinese poachers could not penetrate the Spratly Islands where the Philippines occupies nine islets called the Kalayaan Chain. Our officials in Palawan cannot refuse the Chinese Embassy request that their fishermen be released. The Navy and Coast Guard officials are risking their lives in chasing the poachers but everything will just be normally settled when some politicians disregard the rule of law in the name of diplomacy.
The world is looking at us and we all know that there are crimes against the environment committed by the Chinese fishermen, but there will always be a way out. If the agents of our government will persevere and apprehend the Chinese culprits, the Filipino agents will be charged with kidnapping. That is no longer funny. In our battle for the protected areas, we involve our NGOs like the World Wide Fund for Nature – Philippines (WWF – Phil.), the church, and the civic groups. We accuse the apprehended poachers for taking endangered species, trespassing in our protected areas and operating motorized boats in restricted areas.
China will always intervene and one day, they will show ‘dubious clearances’ so that the poachers can be released by the authority. So, how do we call it? Forgive me but this whole thing is operated by an organized environment crime and our poor Bantay Dagat members assisted by a PO1 from the nearby police department can no longer stop them. Common victims are the islanders in Sulu Sea wherein members of the syndicate would give the islanders (including small officials) money for illegal cages for sea turtles, chemicals to poison fish, and even arms to fight civilian patrols.
What can we do now? We need more walks than talks with or without a spy plane.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 06, 2012.