The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will be sent to the Scarborough Shoal amid reports of Filipino fishermen being allowed last week to enter and fish there without interruptions from the Chinese.
Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade confirmed this and said the move will gauge how the Chinese, who control the contested shoal, would react to PCG presence, GMA News reported.
Ever since the standoff between the two countries at the shoal in 2012, towering Chinese Coast Guard ships have driven away the PCG and defenseless Filipino fishermen from the resource rich waters.
PCG Commander Armand Balilo said that due to this, the PCG was forced to patrol the waters that fall on our exclusive economic zone from a distance to avoid raising tensions with China.
China’s sudden change of heart is attributed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s tilt to Asia, notably after his state visit there from Oct 18 to 22 where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Despite his apparent efforts to enhance friendly ties with China, Duterte has reiterated that we are not giving up any of our contested maritime territories.
He also assured that his administration will continue to stand by and uphold the international arbitration court’s ruling favoring the Philippines against China in the long standing dispute.