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Palace: Video of Chinese coast guards allegedly taking Pinoy fishermen’s catch inconclusive

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Malacañang on Friday asked for more information in connection with the report that members of the Chinese Coast Guard have been taking the catch of Filipinos fishing in the disputed Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal off Zambales.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said he already asked for a written statement from fishermen involved because the video, as reported by GMA News on Thursday, seemed to be “inconclusive.”

“If established, it’s a ground for protest. [I] have asked GMA to authenticate but [the] video that I saw was inconclusive. [I] didn’t actually see any bullying,” Roque said in a text message.

Cameras stowed on one of the fishing boats filmed the Chinese asking for fish and then sailing away when fishermen explained they have not caught any, according to the report.

The report also said the fishermen alleged that the Chinese Coast Guard had made a habit of taking their catch.

The United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration delivered in July 2016 a sweeping victory to the Philippines on the case it filed against China during the term of then-President Benigno Aquino III, declaring as illegal China's claim over nearly the entire South China Sea.

It also declared that Beijing violated the rights of Filipinos, who were blocked by Chinese Coast Guard from fishing in the  Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal), a traditional fishing ground that is within Manila’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

President Rodrigo Duterte, however, temporarily set aside the ruling to avoid confrontation with China, but vowed to raise it at the right time during his presidency. — RSJ, GMA News

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