Some fishermen in the West Philippine Sea recounted how their lives were greatly affected by the presence and repulsion of Chinese ships.
At Sabina Shoal, 99 miles from mainland Palawan, within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, some Filipino fishermen are temporarily staying.
But even though it was the Philippine EEZ, most of the boats they encountered were large Chinese ferries.
In the Southern Banks, a Filipino boat told a story about their livelihood. They were a group of fishermen and the last of them they immediately complained.
They can’t go home fresh late because they count months before going home to the port.
“Sobra na isang buwan po… Ganu’n po. Abutin pa po ng mga 75 days,” said Nardin Salih, a fisherman, when asked how many days they have been in the ocean now.
But their life was not like this before.
Salih said that when the Filipinos were still able to go to the Union banks, where the Julian Felipe reef is, they filled the boat in just two weeks.
Fishermen in West Philippine Sea share suffering caused by China
But it has been 10 years since the last time Salih went there because they knew where they would arrive.
“Kasi ‘yung mga China kasi maano. Nag-aano sila ng mga tao. Kung may nagpunta doon na mga ibang [lahi], tinataboy nila… Siyempre ma’am, natatakot din… Alis na lang, dito na lang kami, paikot-ikot,” said Salih.
During their time at sea, Salih never heard of the crash of Chinese ships, which increased even more on the Union banks.
They also did not see the appearance of the Chinese islands that were also around there.
But hopefully, according to him, one day, they can return.
“Hiling lang namin ‘yung kung puwede lang sana makapasok doon. Kagaya ng dati. ‘Yun ang hiling namin. Wala naman kaming ibang hiling… Pero kung talagang hindi kami makapunta, wala kaming magawa,” said Salih.
Meanwhile, more ships from the United States are expected to arrive in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.
This was announced by the Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez after the US Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) entered the West Philippine Sea on April 4 for a routine operation.