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Remulla: DOJ to go after people linked to cyanide fishing at Scarborough Shoal

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Wednesday said the Department of Justice will help relevant agencies in gathering evidence and building a case against individuals who are behind the alleged cyanide fishing at Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc.

“Under the leadership of President Marcos Jr., the Philippines will not tolerate any actions that harm our environment or deprive Filipino people of their right to its use and beauty,” Remulla said in a statement.

Over the weekend, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said that their recent deployments at Scarborough found the lagoon heavily damaged, possibly due to cyanide fishing by Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen.

National Task Force West Philippine Sea (NTF WPS) spokesperson Jonathan Malaya has said that the Philippines may file a case against China and Vietnam amid the reports.

This was followed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressing an openness to file cases against those responsible if there is enough ground to do so.

For its part, China's Foreign Ministry said that Philippine allegations that Chinese fishermen had been using cyanide were sheer fabrication.

While emphasizing that China had sovereignty over "Huangyan Dao" and its adjacent waters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told the Global Times that the "Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of eco-environment and conservation of fishing resource and resolutely fights against fishing activities that violate laws and regulations."

Environmental case

Meanwhile, Remulla previously said the Philippine government is seeking to file an environmental case against China over concerns in the West Philippine Sea.

Remulla first mentioned the filing of the case against China in September 2023, after the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command confirmed there were cases of massive coral harvesting along Rozul (Iroquois) Reef in the West Philippine Sea.

“The impact on these coral reefs is devastating. These ecosystems are vital not only for marine biodiversity but also for the livelihoods of Filipino fisherfolk. We are committed to ensuring proper accountability for such acts,” Remulla said. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News