Posts Tagged ‘Bajo de Masinloc’

Philippines: President Duterte Foes Amend Impeachment Complaint, Call Duterte Stance on China ‘Dereliction of Duty’

March 20, 2017
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano holds a copy of the impeachment complaint he filed against President Duterte at the House of Representatives on Thursday. Philstar.com/File photo
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MANILA, Philippines — Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said that his group is considering  filing a supplemental complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly being subservient to China.
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Alejano’s statement came after Duterte claimed last week that he allowed China to send survey ships to Benham Rise as part of an agreement.
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The Department of Foreign Affairs last week said it was not aware of an agreement or policy over the Benham Rise region.
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In an interview on CNN’s ‘The Source,’ Alejano said that the president’s action is a matter of national security since there is a conflict of interest with China on the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea that Manila claims.
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“We’re talking about national interest here, we’re talking about national security here because we have a clear conflict of interest in West Philippine Sea,” Alejano said.
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China has repeatedly reiterated its position over the South China Sea, saying it has a historical and legal claim over the vast area.
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An international tribunal however, ruled in favor of the Philippines in an arbitration case against China, saying that China’s “nine-dash line” claim over a large part of the South China Sea, including part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, has no basis.
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In a speech on Sunday, Duterte also said that he cannot stop China from setting up a reported monitoring station in the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc.
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“We cannot stop China from doing its thing. Hindi nga napara ng Amerikano,” Duterte said.
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Duterte added that the country will lose all of its military and policemen if he declares war against China.
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Alejano however, said that war is not the only solution, saying that the president could constantly raise issues in the West Philippines Sea.
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“He’s not doing that because he’s afraid to offend China,” Alejano said.
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He added that if Duterte said he cannot do anything to protect the country’s territory “then that’s dereliction of duty.”
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Related:
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 (Contains links to several previos articles on the South China Sea)

Philippines Defense Minister: China likely to build more islands

February 7, 2017
/ 04:50 PM February 07, 2017

Satellite image of the disputed Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, which located 124 nautical miles west of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon.

Satellite image of the disputed Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, which located 124 nautical miles west of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon.

Manila expects China to try to build on a reef off the Philippines’ coast, the country’s defense secretary said Tuesday, a move he said would be “unacceptable” in the flashpoint waterway.

In an interview with AFP, Delfin Lorenzana said he believed China would eventually reclaim the Scarborough Shoal, which sits just 230 kilometers from the main Philippine island of Luzon.

Beijing has already built up a number of islets and reefs in the South China Sea, installing military facilities on several of them.

Analysts say that similar installations on Scarborough Shoal could give China effective military control over the disputed waterway — something the US has said it is not prepared to accept.

“They encroached,” Lorenzana said of a 2012 confrontation that saw Philippine vessels displaced. “They occupied three islands there plus they are trying to get Scarborough. So to us that is unacceptable”.

“If we allow them, they will build. That’s very, very disturbing. Very much (more) disturbing than Fiery Cross because this is so close to us,” Lorenzana added, referring to one of the Philippine-claimed reefs China has built on.

Because of its position, another military outpost at Scarborough Shoal is seen as the last major physical step required to secure control of the sea.

An outpost at the shoal would also put Chinese fighter jets and missiles within easy striking distance of US forces stationed in the Philippines.

The shoal also commands the northeast exit of the sea, so a Chinese military outpost there could stop other countries’ navies from using the vital stretch of waters.

A UN-backed tribunal — in a case brought by Manila under then-president Benigno Aquino — ruled last year that the so-called “nine-dash-line” which underpins Beijing’s claim to most of the South China Sea had no legal basis.

But his successor, Rodrigo Duterte, has courted Beijing and backed away from his country’s close relationship with the United States.

Lorenzana said Chinese island-reclamation efforts were meant to control the South China Sea.

“That could be their strategy to counter any superpower that would encroach on South China Sea because they believe South China Sea is — that’s like their lake to them — theirs,” he added.

The administration of new US President Donald Trump has indicated it will push back against any Chinese attempt to solidify control of the sea.

During confirmation hearings, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US would block Chinese access to the islands, although analysts have pointed out that this would require a military blockade — an act of war

Read more: https://globalnation.inquirer.net/152424/china-likely-build-islands-lorenzana#ixzz4Y0tMxmgt
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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of the “nine dash line” as depted on this Chinese government chart. On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid
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South China Sea and China’s questionable claims — Chart by THE ECONOMIST

South China Sea: Still No Word From China on Philippines President Duterte and His Scarborough Marine Park

November 23, 2016
In this Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016 photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a signing ceremony in Beijing. AP/Ng Han Guan, Pool, File

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing refused to comment on the recent proposal of President Rodrigo Duterte to declare the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal into a marine sanctuary.

This is contrary to the recent statement of Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar that Chinese President Xi Jinping was receptive to Duterte’s idea.

READ: Xi open to Duterte’s plan to turn Panatag into sanctuary | Duterte to issue EO declaring Panatag a sanctuary

When asked about China’s response to the president’s plan to declare the disputed shoal a lagoon, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang insisted that Beijing’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over the shoal will not change.

“China and the Philippines have reached an agreement on coming back to the track of dialogue and consultation for the settlement of the South China Sea issue,” Geng said in a press briefing Tuesday.

Declaring the disputed Panatag Shoal in the South China Sea a maritime sanctuary would make it off-limits to all fishermen.

All fishing activities inside the area will be banned but not around it.

“The Chinese side has also made proper arrangements for fishing activities by the Philippine fishermen in waters near Huangyan Dao in the interests of bilateral friendship,” Geng said.

A statement earlier released by the PCO said that Xi vowed that Filipino fishermen will continue to have free access to the disputed shoal, which is their traditional fishing grounds.

China hopes that the two countries will enhance cooperation to turn the South China Sea dispute into a “positive factor for friendship and cooperation.”

Both the Philippines and China have been claiming Panatag Shoal, also called Bajo de Masinloc, which is located 124 nautical miles from Zambales..

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/11/23/1646667/china-mum-dutertes-proposal-declare-panatag-sanctuary

RELATED: Commentary: How a marine-protected area in the South China Sea is crucial for peace

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South China Sea: Scarborough Shoal to be declared a marine sanctuary — President Rodrigo Duterte is set to sign an Executive Order

November 21, 2016

Leaders of China, the Philippines Talk About a South China Sea Marine Preserve — Made a Deal?

November 21, 2016
 
China’s President Xi Jinping, center, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, right, wait for the group photo to be taken at the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, APEC, summit in Lima, Peru, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. AP/Martin Mejia
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MANILA, Philippines — Chinese President Xi Jinping responded well to the proposal of President Rodrigo Duterte to declare the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal into a marine sanctuary, a Palace official said.

Duterte suggested turning the shoal into a sanctuary to Xi when they met during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru.

At a news conference on Monday upon Duterte’s return to the Philippines, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Xi was receptive to Duterte’s idea.

“Sabi niya (Xi), ‘We will mobilize government forces to promote our agreements, step up guidance to create a favorable environment,'” Andanar said.

Turning the shoal into a sanctuary would ban all fishing activities inside the area but not around it.

Both the Philippines and China have been claiming Panatag Shoal, also called Bajo de Masinloc, which is located 124 nautical miles from Zambales.

RELATED: 2 Coast Guard ships arrive at Panatag

The Chinese president has also promised that Filipino fishermen will continue to have access to the disputed shoal in the South China Sea, according to a report from the South China Morning Post.

Xi called on the two countries to explore maritime cooperation as the contested sea would be turned into a “symbol of cooperation.”

RELATED: Duterte to align foreign policy toward China-led Asian economic development

Implementing a marine park in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea could be done bilaterally by the Philippines with any number of claimant states.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines marine protected areas as bodies of water that are protected for conservation purposes.

The main objective of establishing a marine protected area is to protect the existing biodiversity and the integrity of the marine ecosystem in the area. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

RELATED: Commentary: How a marine-protected area in the South China Sea is crucial for peace

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/11/21/1645961/xi-open-dutertes-plan-turn-panatag-sanctuary

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Chinese coast guard ships remain in Philippine waters but Filipino fishers are allowed to fish

October 30, 2016

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The Associated Press
October 30, 2016

MANILA — Philippine aerial surveillance showed Chinese coast guard ships were still guarding a disputed shoal in the South China Sea but they allowed Filipinos to fish “unmolested” for the first time in years, the defense secretary said Sunday.

The return of Filipino fishermen to Scarborough Shoal, which China effectively seized in 2012, was “a most welcome development” because it brings back their key source of livelihood, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

China granted access to the tiny, uninhabited shoal 123 nautical miles (228 kilometers) from the northern Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte reached out to Beijing and met Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders this month. After his China trip, Duterte announced without elaborating that Filipinos may be able to return to the shoal soon.

A Philippine Navy plane spotted at least four Chinese coast guard ships around the shoal during a surveillance flight over the weekend, Lorenzana said, adding that an earlier report by the Philippine coast guard that the Chinese had left the area was incorrect.

“Flybys of our planes reported Chinese coast guard ships are still there but our fishermen were fishing unmolested,” Lorenzana told The Associated Press.

It’s unclear how long China would keep the shoal open to Filipinos or if there were any conditions attached.

Duterte made clear that the dispute over the shoal, which the Philippines calls Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag and the Chinese refer to as Huangyan Island, was far from over. He said he insisted in his talks with Chinese leaders that the shoal belonged to the Philippines, but that the Chinese also asserted their claim of ownership.

Since 2012, Chinese coast guard ships had driven Filipino fishermen away from the area, sometimes with the use of water cannons. Farther south in the Spratly Islands, China went on to construct seven man-made islands in recent years despite protests from other claimants and the U.S., which insists on freedom of navigation in what it considers international waters.

The new development brought joy to the first Filipinos who ventured back to Scarborough in flotillas of small fishing boats.

“We’re happy that we were able to sail back there,” said Gil Bauya, who returned Saturday with a huge catch of red snappers and other fish to Cato village in the northwestern province of Pangasinan.

“They just let us fish,” Bauya said, referring to three Chinese coast guard ships fishermen saw at the shoal from a distance. “We were waiting what they would do, but they didn’t do anything like deploying small rubber boats to chase us like they used to do.”

After three days of fishing, Bauya said they ran out of ice to preserve their catch and had to sail back home for the All Souls’ Day holiday. Amid the festive air in Cato, where villagers helped them unload their bumper catch, Bauya said he and his crewmen plan to travel back to Scarborough in the coming week.

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Beijing on Saturday that China’s withdrawal from Scarborough Shoal would be welcomed by Washington.

He said it would be consistent with an international arbitration ruling in July that invalidated Beijing’s sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea. The ruling said that both Filipinos and Chinese can fish at the shoal, but China ignored it./rga

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/148344/china-still-guarding-shoal-but-filipino-fishermen-back-lorenzana#ixzz4Oa97rKUg
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Pinoy fishermen successfully return from Scarborough fishing trip

Joanna Tacason, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 29 2016 01:18 PM | Updated as of Oct 29 2016 01:30 PM

Pinoy fishermen successfully returned from their fishing trip in Scarborough shoal.

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PANGASINAN – A group of Filipino fishermen successfully returned from a fishing trip in the disputed Scarborough Shoal on Tuesday, a first since the standoff between the Philippines and China in 2012.

The fishermen were happy and relieved to return to their hometown in Infanta, Pangasinan after fishing in the shoal, which is located near Zambales province and known as Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc in the Philippines.

According to the fishermen, they tried to fish in Scarborough Shoal last Saturday (October 22) but were allegedly driven away by armed Chinese Coast Guard.

China and the Philippines have been locked in a territorial dispute over parts of the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea. In June 2012, Beijing seized control of Scarborough following a three-month standoff after a Philippine Navy vessel tried to arrest Chinese fishermen found illegally hauling giant clams there.

“Natakot kami, armado eh, kaya umalis pero bumalik kami ulit ayon, hnd naman na kami pinansin, hinayaan na kami, masaya syempre,” Gil Bauya, a fisherman said.

(We were scared because they were armed that’s why we left. We returned and they no longer noticed us. They just let us fish and of course we are happy.)

They tried again on Tuesday and were surprised to find out that they were allowed to fish in the disputed waters.

Another fisherman, Noel Daruca, said they were eight groups of fishermen from Pangasinan and Zambales who went to Scarborough shoal.

“Makakabawi na, tagal din naming hindi nakabawi, masaya siyempre, sana tuloy-tuloy na,” Daruca said.

(We can now recover our losses for a long time. We are happy and we hope that this will continue.)

They were able to bring home tons of fish which they intend to sell in Malabon.

During his visit to typhoon-hit Cagayan, President Rodrigo Duterte had said that local fishermen may soon gain access to Scarborough shoal.

On Friday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said there have been indications that the Chinese Coast Guard has left Scarborough Shoal after Duterte’s state visit to China.

READ: Chinese Coast Guard no longer in Scarborough Shoal: Palace

Kabayan Party-list Representative Harry Roque, who was part the Philippine delegation in Duterte’s state visit to China, said early this week that the two governments have reached a “modus vivendi” to allow Filipino fishermen to fish again in the shoal.

Related:

Also on The Philippine Star:
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2 Chinese ships spotted at Panatag but Pinoy fishers allowed in
http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/10/30/1638803/2-chinese-ships-spotted-panatag-pinoy-fishers-allowed
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DND: China still guarding shoal but Filipinos back
http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/10/30/1638793/dnd-china-still-guarding-shoal-filipinos-back
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Peace and Freedom recently related:
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File photo provided by Renato Etac, Chinese Coast Guard members, wearing black caps and orange life vests, approach Filipino fishermen as they confront them off Scarborough Shoal at South China Sea in northwestern Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, Filipino fishermen may be able to return to the China-held Scarborough Shoal in a few days after he discussed the territorial rift with Chinese leaders during his trip to Beijing this past week. Renato Etac via AP, File

   (From July 12, 2016)

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Above Chinese chart shows China’s “Nine Dash Line.” China says it owns all ocean territory north of the Nine Dash Line. There is no international legal precedent for this claim.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid.

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/148344/china-still-guarding-shoal-but-filipino-fishermen-back-lorenzana#ixzz4Oa8plidy
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Communist Party of the Philippines to US: Keep off Scarborough issue

October 30, 2016
Maritime hotspots in Asia, among which is the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, off Zambales. AMTI/CSIS, file
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LA UNION, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines on Saturday welcomed the apparently peaceful settlement of the Scarborough Shoal issue by President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping and told the US not to interfere.
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Until recently, Filipino fishermen had no access to the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag and Bajo de Masinloc, after a standoff between China and the Philippines in 2012. China has had de facto control of the area, which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone under international law.
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The CPP congratulated the governments of China and the Philippines for peacefully settling the matter paving the way for the return of Filipino fishermen to their traditional fishing grounds.
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“The settlement of the Scarborough issue underscores what can be achieved by asserting national independence, building friendly relations with neighboring countries and opposing outside interference, especially war instigations by the US military,” the CPP said in a statement.
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The CPP further anticipates further success in the peaceful settlement of other conflicting maritime claims, including those around the Kalayaan Islands, “consistent with the assertions of the Filipino people.”
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The basic premise and most urgent condition for the settlement of all conflicting claims should be the demilitarization of the South China Sea to allow all countries to make use of the sea route for international trade, the CPP said.  It is demanding the US military “end all naval patrols including so-called ‘freedom of navigation operations’ which has no other aim than provoking retaliation.”
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The Duterte administration has been working on forging better ties with China and other Asian nations as part of what it calls a new independent foreign policy. He went on a state visit to China this month and announced his “separation” from the US, saying he has aligned with the “ideological flow” of China and Russia.
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The Philippines and China have also agreed to hold bilateral talks on its maritime dispute after a July ruling by an arbitration tribunal that China’s nine-dash line claim over a large part of the South China Sea has no legal basis. The court, whose ruling China has refused to recognize, also said Scarborough is a traditional fishing ground and China has no basis to keep fishers out.
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‘US caused security problems in South China Sea’
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The CPP also rejected the statement of the US state department that it was still “assessing” reports that China’s coast guards are no longer patrolling and preventing the entry of Filipino fishermen.
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“In the first place, the US has no standing whatsoever to make any assessment in an area that is part of Philippine maritime territory,” the CPP said, adding,  “it is US war-mongering and naval buildup in accordance with its US pivot to encircle China that is at the root of the outstanding security problems in the South China Sea.”
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The party, which is in peace talks with the government, said the standoff in 2012 started when “the puppet [Benigno] Aquino government sent several naval warships to confront Chinese civilian coast guard ships.”
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The standoff started when Philippine Navy ship BRP Gregorio Del Pilar attempted to apprehend Chinese boats found with corals, giant clams and live sharks on April 10, 2012. The Del Pilar withdrew on April 12 to defuse tension in the area and was replaced by a Philippine Coast Guard vessel.
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Philippine ships from the PCG and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources left the area in June of that year due to bad weather, the Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said then.
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Also on The Philippine Star:
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DND: China still guarding shoal but Filipinos back
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Peace and Freedom recently related:
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File photo provided by Renato Etac, Chinese Coast Guard members, wearing black caps and orange life vests, approach Filipino fishermen as they confront them off Scarborough Shoal at South China Sea in northwestern Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, Filipino fishermen may be able to return to the China-held Scarborough Shoal in a few days after he discussed the territorial rift with Chinese leaders during his trip to Beijing this past week. Renato Etac via AP, File

   (From July 12, 2016)

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Above Chinese chart shows China’s “Nine Dash Line.” China says it owns all ocean territory north of the Nine Dash Line. There is no international legal precedent for this claim.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid.

South China Sea: Chinese coastguard ships still patrolling the disputed Scarborough Shoal, But Filipino fishers allowed

October 30, 2016

AFP — 30 October 2016 – 10H45

© AFP

MANILA (AFP) – Chinese coastguard ships are still patrolling the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea but are not stopping Filipinos from fishing there, a Philippine defence spokesman said Sunday.The information — from fishermen who have just returned from the shoal — came despite earlier Philippine government statements that the Chinese had left the outcrop they seized in 2012.

A spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte had said Saturday there were no longer signs of Chinese ships at the shoal, after Duterte visited China to repair frayed ties.

However Defence Department spokesman Arsenio Andolong said the fishermen who visited the shoal on Saturday still saw Chinese coastguard ships there.

“Filipino fishermen, who have been to Bajo de Masinloc, (the local name for Scarborough Shoal) say that they have observed an undetermined number of Chinese white ships in the area but (the Filipinos) were not subjected to any harassment by these vessels and they were able to fish in peace,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

China took control of Scarborough Shoal, 230 kilometres (140 miles) west of the main Philippine island of Luzon, in 2012. It drove Filipino fishermen away from the rich fishing ground, sometimes using water cannons.

In a case brought by then-president Benigno Aquino, the Philippines won a resounding victory over China at an international tribunal earlier this year.

In a judgement that infuriated Beijing, the tribunal ruled in July there was no basis for China’s claims to most of the South China Sea — where several nations have competing partial claims.

However Aquino’s successor Duterte played down this victory in a visit to China earlier this month, putting territorial disputes on the back-burner and focusing instead on Chinese aid.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Duterte there was no reason for hostility and difficult topics “could be shelved temporarily”.

The Chinese occupation of the shoal has been a sore point in relations, with Filipino fishermen frequently complaining that Chinese ships drive them away from their fishing grounds.

Duterte had hinted at the possibility of a Chinese withdrawal upon his return from Beijing, saying: “We’ll just wait for a few more days. We might be able to return to Scarborough Shoal.”

Newspaper reports on Sunday also said fishermen from the northern province of Pangasinan were able to fish at Scarborough Shoal, with the Chinese watching but not interfering.

“Happy days are here again,” the Philippine Star quoted one fisherman as saying.

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File photo provided by Renato Etac, Chinese Coast Guard members, wearing black caps and orange life vests, approach Filipino fishermen as they confront them off Scarborough Shoal at South China Sea in northwestern Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, Filipino fishermen may be able to return to the China-held Scarborough Shoal in a few days after he discussed the territorial rift with Chinese leaders during his trip to Beijing this past week. Renato Etac via AP, File

   (From July 12, 2016)

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Above Chinese chart shows China’s “Nine Dash Line.” China says it owns all ocean territory north of the Nine Dash Line. There is no international legal precedent for this claim.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid.

Filipino fishermen return to traditional fishing grounds as hopes soar that China has removed restrictions

October 28, 2016
/ 03:52 AM October 28, 2016

SUBIC, Zambales—Have the Chinese lifted their blockade of Panatag Shoal?

Filipino fishermen do not know for sure, but eight groups of fishermen from Zambales province entered Panatag Shoal on Wednesday without interference from the Chinese Coast Guard, which had been blockading the rich fishing ground since 2012.

“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,” boat captain Aniceto Achina, 40, said on Wednesday.

He said the fishermen who gained access to Panatag, internationally known as Scarborough Shoal, asked him to send additional supplies, confident they would be able to fish there without being harassed by Chinese vessels.

Duterte visit to China

President Duterte discussed the return of Filipino fishermen to Panatag with Chinese leaders during his state visit to China last week.

On Sunday, while visiting typhoon-ravaged northern Luzon, Mr. Duterte said Filipino fishermen might be able to return to the shoal, but that he was not sure if the Chinese would keep their word.

The Philippine delegation to China rejected language in a proposal that indicated the Chinese were going to “allow” or “permit” Filipino fishermen to go back to the shoal.

READ: Philippines rejects China language in Scarborough proposal

Use of such language would not be consistent with the ruling in July of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that Panatag is a common fishing ground, open to both Filipino and Chinese fishermen.

China, which claims almost all of the South China Sea, seized the shoal after a two-month standoff with the Philippines in 2012, forcing Manila to challenge Beijing’s excessive claim to the strategic waterway.

The Hague ruling

The tribunal ruled heavily in favor of the Philippines, saying that China’s claims have no basis in international law and that Beijing has violated Manila’s rights to fish and explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea, waters within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

China, which ignored the proceedings, rejected the court’s ruling and continued blockading the shoal.

Beijing, however, softened after Mr. Duterte, who was elected in May, sought to mend ties with China and pressed his diplomatic strategy by making a four-day visit to the Chinese capital with a large business delegation last week.

Disagreement over language in the Panatag proposal apparently did not stop the Chinese from loosening their grip on the shoal.

Achina and his 11-member crew left this town at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday and headed for Panatag to join the other Filipino fishermen already there.

Another fisherman, Rodel David, 30, said he and other fishermen would seize every chance to fish again at Panatag.

“We have prepared our boats for trips to other fishing grounds, but since some of our fellow fishermen have started fishing at the shoal again, we will join them,” David said.

He reported that fishermen from Bataan and Pangasinan provinces have also been able to return to Panatag.

“One of China’s patrol ships approached the boats of our fellow fishermen as they tried to enter the shoal. Surprisingly, they were not driven away,” he said.TVJ

 

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/148222/filipino-fishermen-are-back-in-panatag#ixzz4ONRgHFU8
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File photo provided by Renato Etac, Chinese Coast Guard members, wearing black caps and orange life vests, approach Filipino fishermen as they confront them off Scarborough Shoal at South China Sea in northwestern Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, Filipino fishermen may be able to return to the China-held Scarborough Shoal in a few days after he discussed the territorial rift with Chinese leaders during his trip to Beijing this past week. Renato Etac via AP, File

   (From July 12, 2016)

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Above Chinese chart shows China’s “Nine Dash Line.” China says it owns all ocean territory north of the Nine Dash Line. There is no international legal precedent for this claim.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid.

South China Sea: China to increase number of military exercises

October 26, 2016

Reuters

Wed Oct 26, 2016 | 6:05am EDT

China will carry out military drills in the South China Sea all day on Thursday, the country’s maritime safety administration said on Wednesday, ordering all other shipping to stay away.

China routinely holds drills in the disputed waterway, and the latest exercises come less than a week after a U.S. navy destroyer sailed near the Paracel Islands, prompting a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area.

The maritime administration gave coordinates for an area south of the Chinese island province of Hainan and northwest of the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, but controlled by China.

The brief statement gave no other details, apart from prohibiting other ships from entering the area.

China’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China has a runway on Woody Island, its largest presence on the Paracels, and has placed surface-to-air missiles there, according to U.S. officials.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have rival claims in the South China Sea, but Beijing’s is the largest. It argues it can do what it wants on the islands it claims as they have been Chinese since ancient times.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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