Number of Chinese fishing boats seen around Pag-asa has dwindled, mayor says

Arlie Cabrestante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2019 10:04 PM

The number of Chinese fishing vessels seen around Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan town has decreased over the past months, Mayor Roberto del Mundo told ABS-CBN News Thursday.

Del Mundo estimated that boat sightings at most number 8 a day, compared to 50 previously.

“Medyo nag-reduce na rin ’yung Chinese vessel doon. Hindi tulad ng dati nu’ng pumunta ako doon talagang marami, nakaikot diyan sa ating Pag-asa Island. Pero ngayon for almost 2 weeks, parang 7 na lang o 8 ang nandoon. Nag-reduce talaga siya," he said.

He attributed the development to the recent meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Siguro dahil nakipag-usap na rin ang ating bansa sa bansang China," Del Mundo said, adding that they did not experience any form of harassment when they visited Kalayaan before the elections.

“Ilang buwan na ako bumabalik doon, hindi ako nakaranas ng ganoon. Hindi katulad sa sinasabi nila sa Scarborough (Shoal) doon talaga mayroon pero dito wala."

Meanwhile, Commodore Sean Anthony Villa, commander of Naval Forces West (NFW), said safeguarding national sovereignty remains the navy's priority.

Villa assured that the presence of the foreign vessels does not pose any threat to Filipino fishermen.

“Sa ngayon, walang problema. We continue to safeguard what is ours," he said.

It was in April when Western Command (WesCom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed there were more than 200 Chinese vessels seen daily in the island of Pag-asa.