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EXCLUSIVE: Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal Fishermen’s Tales

July 26, 2018

A Manila Shimbun team joined a group of fishermen from Infanta, Pangasinan who journeyed to Scarborough (Panatag) shoal in April, 2017. The team stayed with them for five days before returning via Subic, Zambales. This feature focuses on interviews with the fishermen, some of whom came from as far as Cebu, who have fished in the waters in and out of Scarborough shoal for as long as they can remember. The shoal was occupied by China after a standoff with the Philippines in 2012. It allowed Filipino fishermen, out of goodwill, to return to the shoal in October 2016 after President Duterte met with Chinese leader Xi Jin Ping in Lima, Peru. China has rejected a decision by the arbitral tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague dismissing its claim of historic rights over most of the WPS/SCS. The tribunal also considers Scarborough as a “traditional fishing ground for fishermen of many nationalities” and China’s occupation of the shoal as unlawful.