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BFAR advises fishermen to avoid Panatag Shoal

As issues of alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen by Chinese Coast Guard in the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal resurfaced, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) advised fishermen to avoid going to the area.

To prevent further escalation of tension between Manila and Beijing, BFAR National Director Eduardo Gongona said local fishermen should refrain from going to the Panatag Shoal.

"Refrain muna natin na pumunta doon, for the meantime, and concentrate on our municipal waters kasi 'yun nga ang pinangingisdaan natin," Gongona said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.

This came after a supposed campaign video of senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares circulated online, discussing the supposed harassment against Filipino fishermen in the area.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier urged those behind the documentary to show proof of the alleged harassment before the Philippine government could file a diplomatic protest. 

The Northern Luzon Command has since clarified that "there were no reports of Filipino Fishermen being subjected to the said attack of Chinese water cannons, and so far, there were no sightings of dredging ships in the waters of Bajo De Masinloc or in the West Philippine Sea." 

For his part, BFAR's Gongona said, "Just be careful at may mga dapat tayong pang-ilagan for the meantime."

The BFAR chief also clarified that Panatag Shoal is not a major source of fish supply.

"Ang nahuhuli diyan sa Panatag Shoal ay high value fish na hindi naman ganu'n karami," he said. —Ted Cordero/KG, GMA News