MANILA, Philippines – Filipino fishermen have reported being able to fish in Scarborough Shoal for the past few days without being accosted by the Chinese Coast Guard.
According to ABS-CBN, fishermen from Cato, Pangasinan said they were initially stopped by a Chinese vessel from going to the shoal on Monday. Since Tuesday, however, they have been fishing without any interference.
Boat captain Aniceto Achina told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that his peers from Zambales also reported no harassment from the Chinese when they fished in the shoal on Wednesday.
“We received a radio message that some of our fellow fishermen were able to approach the shoal. The Chinese Coast Guard did not intercept their boats,” he said.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said Filipino fishermen should wait a few more days before they can begin fishing in the shoal again.
“We’ll just wait for a few more days. We may be able to return to the Scarborough Shoal and our countrymen may be able to fish there again,” he said.
For his part, Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said both countries are ironing out a written agreement since the Philippine side rejected the use of the word “allow” or “permit” as it would imply a recognition of China’s sovereignty.
“The reason why it was not formally announced and the reason why it was not reduced into writing was because there was disagreement on the use of words,” he said. “We don’t want the word ‘allow’ or ‘permit’ to be used by China.”