Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Palace: Long-term fishing in Panatag shoal still 'uncertain'

MALACAÑANG on Wednesday was uncertain whether China will permanently allow the Filipinos to fish in the Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters that the present arrangement between the Philippines is that Filipino fishermen can now "go and fish" in the shoal.

"At this stage, we're not talking guarantees. We're just going by the fact that they, the fishermen, can now just go," Abella said.

"Presently, it's going by the friendly agreement that has been raised. So we'll go. We'll proceed along that lines," he added.

Following the state visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to China from October 18 to 22, Filipino fishermen has since been allowed to go to Panatag Shoal without being barred.

However, there are reports that some Chinese Coast Guard vessels continue to patrol as Filipinos return to the shoal.

Asked why there is still presence of China's ships at the Panatag Shoal, Abella said: "Nothing official has been declared regarding the matter. But...the fact remains that as the President has promised, the fishermen are now allowed...The fishermen are now free to harvest in the area."

Pressed further if China allowing the Filipinos to fish was just temporary, he said, "We don't know if it's temporary." (Sunnex)
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