AS China continues to claim Panatag Shoal, vice-presidential aspirant Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Wednesday said his tandem with presidential candidate Leni Robredo will fight squarely for Philippine territory and sovereignty.
“Walang paligoy-ligoy. Ipagtatanggol ng Leni-Kiko tandem ang ating karapatan, ang mga mangingisda at ang buong Pilipinas laban sa sinumang mananakop,” Pangilinan said after Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Monday insisted that Panatag Shoal is part of its “inherent territory” and that Beijing has sole jurisdiction over it.
Pangilinan said China’s confidence in claiming Panatag is a result of the Duterte administration’s kow-towing to China despite the Philippines’ victory in the international court.
“Sino ang nagpapasok sa China sa loob ng ating bakuran? Nagpapapasok ng kanilang smuggled na gulay? Nagbibigay ng bilyon-bilyong-pisong kontrata sa Pharmally ng overpriced at substandard na mga PPEs?” he asked.
In July 2016, Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration released its decision junking China’s nine-dash line claim of the entire South China Sea.
Panatag Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, is an integral part of the Philippine territory. It is part of the municipality of Masinloc in Zambales. Located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales, it is within the 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Philippine Continental Shelf.
In contrast, Panatag Shoal is about 469 nautical miles from China, or about four times farther than from the Philippines.
Despite the Hague ruling, China continues to claim ownership of these islands, refusing to recognize the ruling of an international court, even driving off and harassing Filipino fishermen who attempt to fish there.
Earlier this year, Pangilinan urged the Philippine Coast Guard and Navy to continue patrolling the area to ensure the safety of Filipino fisherfolk in this fishing ground.
Citing official data, the lawmaker said Filipino fisherfolk have since then earned much less due to harassment from Chinese vessels.
“Dapat lumabas ang ating Coast Guard at Navy, paulit-ulit na magpatrol kasi dati noong nariyan sila, ang kita ng mga mangingisda, P10,000 kada byahe at nakakabyahe sila ng tatlo, apat sa isang buwan. Ngayon, P2,000 hanggang P3,000 na lang ang kita nila sa isang buwan kasi overfished na iyong malapit na coastal waters,” Pangilinan said previously after a dialogue with fisherfolk from Masinloc.
According to the Philippine Coast Guard, the latest incident with Chinese Coast Guard in the shoal occurred on March 2, 2022, when PCG patrol ship BRP Malabrigo reported close distance maneuvering of CCG 3305.
“Tayo, ang mga may-ari, ang ama at ina ng tahanan nating Pilipinas, ayaw natin agawin sa atin ang atin at ang pamana natin sa ating mga anak,” Pangilinan said.