THE administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will not allow the Chinese to harass Filipinos in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Malacañang said Monday, November 26.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the vow during a press conference with Palace reporters, following reports that the personnel of the Chinese Coast Guard barred the crew of a Philippine television network from making a documentary at the Panatag Shoal.
"Nevertheless, hindi tayo papayag syempre na iha-harass yung ating mga kapwa Pilipino (we will, of course, not allow that our fellow Filipinos get harassed)," the Palace official said.
"Hindi tayo papayag na hina-harass tayo kahit na saang lugar, que sa bansa natin o sa bansa nila (We will not allow that we're being harassed anywere, be in our country or in their country)," he added.
Panelo, however, said the administration will have to investigate first the China's Coast Guard men's reported harassment of the crew of GMA-7's Reporter's Notebook.
GMA-7 News reporter Jun Veneracion had reported that the China Coast Guard prevented his team from filming in early November at the Panatag Shoal, a traditional fishing ground that lies 124 nautical miles from Zambales and within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
Veneracion said they were told that "without the permission of China," his team "cannot carry out the interview" in the Panatag Shoal.
Panelo said the government would verify if China has such a policy.
He added that the Duterte administration will let Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. act on the alleged bullying of Filipinos in the Panatag.
"You know there is an investigation. First, we have to validate what happened there... Imbestigahan muna natin kung totoong may policy (Let's investigate first if there's such a policy)," Panelo said.
"Kaya kung totoo man 'yung policy nila, ade bahala na si (And if there is indeed such a policy, it will be up to) Secretary Locsin. That's his turf," he added.
In June, Veneracion reported that it has become a habit of the Chinese Coast Guard to take the catch of Filipinos fishing in Scarborough Shoal.
The report prompted China to assure the Philippine government that it would impose appropriate sanctions on members of the Chinese Coast Guard who would be proven harassing Filipino fishermen.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the Philippines last week, the Chinese leader pledged before the leaders of the Philippines' Congress that he will push for a "maritime mechanism" that ensures fishermen will not be harassed in the disputed South China Sea. (SunStar Philippines)