Manila: The Philippines said it will not to ask for Beijing’s permission to fish in areas in the South China Sea claimed by China.
“Although there are areas earlier designated where fishing boats from either countries are allowed to go to catch fish, the country is firm in its stand that Filipino fishermen need not ask permission to venture to fish in the West Philippines Sea [South China Sea],” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Saturday in a palace press briefing.
Since 2012, Manila began to refer to the waters known internationally as South China Sea as West Philippines Sea.
Valte made the statement following incidents at the Scarborough Shoal involving the Chinese coast guard and Filipino fishermen.
In one of these incidents, such as the one that took place last April 11, Chinese coastguard personnel boarded two Filipino fishing boats and confiscated fishing equipment.
On another occasion on April 20, a group of 20 Filipino fishing boats were turned back by the Chinese coast guard using water cannons.
Several Filipino fishermen were reportedly injured.
Also on April 20, two separate flights of unarmed Britten-Norman Islander aircraft of the Philippine Navy were signalled by the Chinese Coast Guard to leave the area. The aircraft were to evacuate from the island Chito Pastor, a radio enthusiast doing broadcast tests in Kagitingan, in Pagasa Island (Spratlys Island) close to Scarborough Shoal.
Pastor was in a medical emergency and the aircraft landed safely after two attempts.
China, in a statement issued by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei last April 24, did not deny that the incidents took place but emphasised that its coast guard are just carrying out “guard duties and keep order in waters off the Huangyan Island in accordance with the law.”