Duterte to raise PH fishers’ plight with Xi

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte administer the oath of the newly-elected Punong Barangays of Central Luzon during a ceremony at the ASEAN Convention Center in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga on June 12, 2018. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

By Genalyn D. Kabiling

President Duterte will raise his concerns on the plight of Filipino fishermen in Panatag or Scarbo-rough Shoal in case he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping again, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President would assert the government stance against any oppression of local fishermen sailing in Panatag before his Chinese counterpart.

Roque noted the President has called for a probe on the alleged seizure of local fishermen’s catch by the Chinese Coast Guard during his recent encounter with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua.

“Hindi po namin kinukunsinti ang pangongotong ng isda sa ating mga kababayan, at ‘yan po’y pinarating na ng Presidente mismo natin sa kaalaman ng Ambassador. Hindi na po umasa ang Presidente sa diplomatic channels, at siya na po mismo ang nakipag-usap sa Ambassador,” he said over government radio. “At kung may pagkakataon siguro eh, didiretso na ni Presidente ‘yan kay President Xi dahil talaga namang hindi pupuwedeng inaapi ang ating mga kababayan,” he added.

Roque said the President does not want a repeat of the incident in Panatag in which a portion of the fishermen’s catch was reportedly taken by the Chinese. He noted that Filipino fishermen have access to Panatag Shoal since it is recognized as a traditional fishing ground.