MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government is verifying reports that Chinese fishermen have started fishing again in Scarborough shoal.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said there is a continuing dialogue between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
"That is something that they will be discussing with them. The Chinese Foreign Ministry mentioned that there is a fishing ban. Maybe that's part of the consultations and dialogue with the Chinese counterparts as to the presence of Chinese fishing vessels in spite of the fishing ban imposed by the Chinese government," he said.
As President Aquino meets with his counterparts in the US and UK, Lacierda said the Philippines will welcome any statements of support on the Philippine position on the West Philippine Sea.
Lacierda noted that US officials have "affirmed" the Philippine position on the West Philippine Sea and the need for territorial disputes to be resolved under international law.
The DFA earlier said China has pulled out two of its maritime vessels near the shoal while the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel has left the area.
“Following our consultations, the two Chinese maritime vessels and our BFAR vessel are no longer in the lagoon. We continue the consultations to address the remaining issues in Bajo de Masinloc,” the DFA said yesterday.
DFA Spokesperson Raul Hernandez, however, said some Chinese and Filipino vessels remain near the shoal, which both countries have been claiming to be part of their respective territories.
The Philippines has been insisting that the contested area, which it calls the Panatag shoal, is well within its exclusive economic zone.
China, meanwhile, is claiming the entire South China Sea.