Thursday, May 24, 2012

DFA: Philippines to document China's muscle-flexing, violations of fishing ban in disputed area

Even as it admitted there is not much else it can do, the Philippine government said Thursday it will continue documenting China's violations of a fishing ban at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the footage and other evidence gathered will be brought to the "proper forum."

"Mino-monitor ng Philippine Coast Guard ang nangyayari at ginagawa ng Chinese vessels at dino-document para magamit natin ito na i-submit sa proper forum," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.

But he said the Philippine government will remain cautious as it does not want to escalate tension in the area.

For more than a month, the Philippines and China have been locked in a standoff at the shoal.

The staring match started when Philippine authorities spotted Chinese fishermen gathering marine species in the area.

But before a Philippine Navy team could make arrests, Chinese vessels blocked the Navy ship's path.

Earlier this month, the Philippines and China imposed their respective fishing bans in the area, but the DFA on Wednesday said many Chinese ships were spotted there.

Hernandez said recent reports indicated the Chinese were fishing in the area.

"Sa ngayon nag-iingat tayo kasi gusto nating mapahupa ang tensyon sa Scarborough Shoal. Kaya ayaw natin lalong tumindi ang tensyon. Pero ang nangyayari, kabaligtaran ng sinasabi nila na kailangan ma-defuse ang tension," he said.

Hernandez said the Philippines had protested the latest muscle-flexing by China through a representative of the Chinese embassy in Manila.

But he said the embassy representative claimed China was only protecting its fishing vessels.

Hernandez said this is a violation of the declaration between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where the Philippines is a member, on the conduct on the South China Sea.

He said the agreement called on the parties to "exercise self-restraint" in the conduct of their activities in the area
GMA News Online | May 24, 2012 | Article Link

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