The Department of Agriculture (DA) supports Filipino fishermen in fishing in the West Philippine Sea and ensures that they have nothing to fear as long as they are in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
This is despite the presence and intimidation of Chinese ships in the area, which the government is still unable to curb.
In a virtual press conference, Agriculture Undersecretary for Agri-industrialization and for Fisheries Cheryl Marie Caballero said fishermen should not be afraid as long as they are in the EEZ.
“We continue to provide support for fisher folk, ensuring their safety. Kaya ang BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources), nandiyan in partnership with Philippine Coast Guard and local government units, para sila pa rin ang makapangisda sa fishing grounds,” said Caballero.
He said there are reports that Filipino fishing vessels are still able to fish, but it is not yet certain how much they catch.
“Based on validated reports, minsan nangingisda sila para sa kanilang consumption. Kailangan pa i-substantiate sa mga lugar na hindi nararating ng ating fisher folk. Kailangan ma-contextualize kung gaano kadami,” he added.
Filipino fishers should not be afraid to sail in West Philippine Sea: DA
Meanwhile, some senators on Tuesday said the national government should raise the Philippine flag, not a white flag as a sign of surrender on the West Philippine Sea.
“We should raise the Philippine flag in our territory, not the white flag of surrender,” Senator Grace Poe said in a statement.
Poe noted that the Philippines must exhaust all measures to asset sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea, including asking for support from other countries and allies.
“We should bring more international attention to the issue. By merely being critical of the massing up of foreign vessels in the West Philippine Sea, we’ve already seen movement among our allies,” she said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson also noted that President Rodrigo Duterte “cannot afford” to send the wrong message of “implied surrender or resignation” on the territorial dispute with China.
Meanwhile, the country’s fish production increased by 41.28 percent from March 29 to April present, according to a report provided by the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority, due to the open fishing season.
They expect the supply and price of fish in the markets to be stable due to this.