China investigating Scarborough incident

CHINESE agencies are conducting respective investigations into reports that Chinese Coast Guard personnel patrolling the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal committed misconduct by routinely taking the catch of Filipino fishermen.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, who was interviewed on the sidelines of the 120th Philippine Independence Day celebration, noted that as far as the "friendly" arrangement between China and the Philippines is concerned, Beijing imposed a rule on the Chinese Coast Guard not to do anything "that is harmful to the Filipino fishermen."

"I have noted this complaint by the Filipino fishermen. Rest assured we are conducting a responsible investigation," Zhao told reporters in Kawit, Cavite.

"(Filipino fishermen) can go back and fish there (around Scarborough Shoal) freely, so we will check. And if there is any misconduct conducted by the Chinese coast guard, those individuals will be punished and the rules will be there," he added.

The recent developments concerning Filipinos fishing in the waters of Scarborough Shoal surfaced when news outfit GMA News reported on June 7 that members of the Chinese Coast has been habitually asking Filipino fishermen for fish.

On Monday, June 11, Malacañang presented fisherman Romel Cejuela who claimed that his group was not harassed by the Chinese coast guard.

He said they often barter with the Chinese, with the Chinese giving noodles, cigarettes and water in exchange for fish.

Also on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the Philippine government received assurance that China would address the supposed "unacceptable" behavior of the Chinese Coast Guard.

Zhao said the recent incident should be considered an "isolated case" that should not affect the bilateral relationship between China and the Philippines as well as the two countries' fishing arrangement in the waters of Scarborough Shoal.

"First and foremost, they can fish there because the friendly arrangement will be there. Secondly, whether forceful taken or harassment, it's really up to the investigation," the Chinese ambassador said.

"They (members of the Chinese Coast Guard) will be disciplined, in accordance with our own regulations," he added. (SunStar Philippines)


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