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Philippines files diplomatic protest vs China for confiscating fishing device in Scarborough Shoal

The Philippine government on Thursday said it filed a diplomatic protest against China for confiscating fish aggregating devices installed by Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal off the country's southwestern waters.

Manila called the Chinese Coast Guard's action of taking away the devices, locally known as payao, as "illegal."

The incident at the shoal, which lies 124 nautical miles off the nearest Philippine landmass of Palawan, occurred last May, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

The Philippines "also resolutely objected to China’s continuing illicit issuances of radio challenges Philippine aircraft conducting legitimate regular maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea," the DFA said.

Although the shoal is claimed by the Philippines, an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in 2016 that no country can claim sovereign rights over Scarborough, saying it is a traditional fishing ground for Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen.

China refused to recognize the ruling, saying it is within its territory. The shoal is 472 nautical miles from China’s nearest coastal province of Hainan.

China blocked Filipinos from fishing at the Scarborough Shoal - a U-shaped rocky outcrop rich in marine resources seized by Beijing from Manila in 2012 following a two-month standoff that triggered an international arbitration complaint by Manila seven years ago. -- BAP, GMA News