The livelihood of fishermen in Pag-asa Island continue to be affected by the presence of Chinese Coast Guard ships in the area.
Accoring to Jun Veneracion's report on "24 Oras", the fishers are anxious of their bancas being blocked by the Chinese vessels.
“Gusto rin sana naming pumunta sa ibang lugar sa ibang isla, hindi na rin makapunta kasi hinaharang nila. Syempre kami maliliit lang na bangka natatakot na rin kami,” fisherman Felix Ulson said.
(We also want to go to other areas in other idlands but we can't because they're blocking us.)
The fishermen said there were three sand bars near Pag-Asa Island, where there are plenty of fish to catch.
“‘Yang white sand na 'yan sakop ng Pilipinas 'yan. Sa atin pa rin 'yan e. Napakahirap na pagbawalan tayo. Hindi naman tayo nagnanakaw,” resident Ronald Pabalan said.
“Hirap ng buhay. Walang makain tulad nyan pag pinagbawalan kami doon. Hindi ka pwedeng lumapit dito, itaboy kami. Napakasakit,” he added.
(That white sand is still part of the Philippines. That's ours. It's difficult to be kept from fishing. We're not stealing anything. Life is difficult. We won't have anything to eat if we are blocked from going there. We can't go near, we'd driven off. It hurts.)
No radio challenge
There was no radio challenge from Chinese ships when BRP Francisco Dagohoy went to Pag-asa Island to distribute livelihood assistance to residents.
One Chinese ship, however, approached to one nautical mile. It appeared that it was observing the Philippine vessel while the livelihood package was unloaded.
The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) is hoping to ease the worries of Pag-Asa Island residents with the aid.
It promised the residents additional livelihood assistance in the coming days.
“Tayo ay nagagalak na sa kabila ng layo ng isla na ito na bahagi ng teritoryo ng Pilipinas ay nadala natin ang serbisyo ng pamahalaan,” BFAR spokesman Nazario Briguera said.
(We are happy that despite the distance of the island which is part of Philippine territory, we were able to bring the service of the government.)
Chinese vessels decreased
The Philippine Coast Guard on March 10 noticed a decrease in the number of suspected Chinese maritime militia vessels in and around Pag-asa Island and the Sabina Shoal.
This was after the PCG conducted on March 8 a Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) flight over Pag-asa Island, Ayungin Shoal, and Sabina Shoal, where there were significant numbers of foreign-flagged vessels.
During the flight, the PCG said it received seven radio challenges from the CCG vessels: four challenges while over Pag-asa Island’s territorial sea; and three while over the vicinity of the Ayungin Shoal.
“The PCG noted a decrease in the number of suspected CMM vessels observed over Pag-asa – from forty-two (42) last week to fifteen (15) on 08 March 2023,” the PCG said in March.
“Over Sabina Shoal, the PCG monitored a decrease in the number of CMM vessels – seventeen (17) on 08 March 2023 from twenty-six (26) observed two weeks ago,” it added. —NB, GMA Integrated News