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WesCom chief urges fishing near Pag-asa Island

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Enriquez said Filipino fishermen who venture out to sea near Pag-asa Island are advise to inform the navy and Philippine Coast Guard their location.

The chief of the Armed Forces Western Command (WesCom) Sunday urged fishermen to continue accessing the fishing grounds near Pag-asa Island.

WesCom chief Rear Adm. Ramil Enriquez made the call following reports that several Filipino fishermen were allegedly prevented by a number of Chinese vessels from fishing near the island located in the municipality of Kalayaan, Palawan.

One of the fishermen identified as Larry Hugo revealed that he was about to go the sandbars near Pag-asa Island last 25 January, when a Chinese Coast Guard and six other vessels allegedly blocked his path.

Enriquez said investigation revealed that Hugo was alone when he sailed out on sea while his companions went fishing on the edge of Pag-asa Island. He added that through the use of automated identified system or AIS, they discovered that only one Chinese Coast Guard vessel and three fishing vessel were in the area.

“Tapos nang napansin namin dun sa aming mga nakuha na ebidensya, hindi naman gumalaw talaga ‘yung Chinese Coast Guard vessel saka ‘yung tatlong Chinese fishing vessel. So sabi namin baka, assessment namin itong si Mr. Hugo nang makita nya na medyo marami-rami ‘yung nandun sa harapan nya umikot na sya, siguro dahil dala na rin ito ng balita na ‘yung ino-authorized nila (Chinese government) ang kanyang Chinese Coast Guard na to use any force necessary pag may violation sa kanilang Chinese laws,” Enriquez told radio station DZBB.

China recently passed the Coast Guard Law which will authorize its coast guards to take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.

The law also allows its coast guards to demolish structures of other states that were established in the China-claimed reef.

Enriquez said since being assigned as WesCom chief last November, they have not received any reports of any fishermen asking for help or assistance because they cannot enter a specific place or being block by Chinese vessels.

“Nung tinanong ko rin ang ating navy commander dito na si Commodore Renato David, sabi nya, “Sir, mahigit isang taon na ako wala pang insidente na ganyan,”,” he said.

Enriquez said Filipino fishermen who venture out to sea near Pag-asa Island are advise to inform the navy and Philippine Coast Guard their location so that they can immediately respond to them in case there is emergency.

“Oo, ‘yan ay ang isa mga safeguards natin na hindi basta-basta mapapabayaan ‘yung ating mga mamamayang nangingisda, pero sa aspeto ng pangingisda at meron at meron pa namang mapapagkunan ng isda kasi kahit saang kang direksyong pumunta galing ng Palawan merong isda dun,” he said.

p: wjg

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