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Chinese Coast Guard drives away Pinoy fishermen from Panatag Shoal

The Chinese Coast Guard keeping watch over the disputed waters of West Philippine Sea are still driving away Filipinos headed to fishing grounds in Panatag Shoal (international name: Scarborough Shoal), a report of Bam Alegre on GMA News said on Friday.

The GMA News team, at around 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, accompanied some Filipino fishermen aboard a fishing vessel to Panatag Shoal, called Huangyan Island by the Chinese. Its old name was Bajo de Masinloc, a Spanish name meaning "lower Masinloc."

Bajo de Masinloc is part of the municipality of Masinloc, Zambales. It is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales, within the Philippine Continental Shelf.

About three nautical miles away from Bajo De Masinloc, the GMA News team observed that the Chinese Coast Guard had three vessels in the area.

When the Filipino fishing vessels decided to maneuver back to Masinloc in Zambales, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel tailed them and activated its Long Range Acoustic Device, a siren used for crowd dispersal.

Using a megaphone, the Chinese guards told the Filipino fishermen, “Go back, go back!”

The Filipino vessels were also pursued by two speedboats. One had Chinese guards taking photos of the Filipino fishermen.

The Filipino fishermen told GMA News that there has been Chinese presence over the area as early as 2012. 

The fishermen claimed that since July 12, when the international arbritration tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in the maritime case it filed against China, the Chinese have allegedly been more aggressive in driving away Filipino fishermen.

Earlier reports said the China also flaunted a picture of its nuclear-capable bomber plane flying over the disputed Panatag Shoal, three days after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) released the ruling on the maritime case the Philippines filed against China. 

The official account of People’s Liberation Army Air Force posted photos of the H-6K long range nuclear-capable bomber on a Chinese social media site Weibo.

In a news release posted on its website on July 12, the PCA said, "The  Tribunal  concluded that  there  was  no  legal  basis  for  China  to claim  historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line.’"

The ruling was handed down more than three years after the case was filed by the Philippines in January 2013. — Kiersnerr Gerwin Tacadena/VVP, GMA News