MANILA - Activist groups slammed Tuesday Chinese coast guard personnel who confiscated the catch of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal in exchange for noodles and cigarettes.
Chairperson Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap particularly criticized the comments made by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in justifying the Chinese authorities’ actions in taking the catch of Filipino fishermen in exchange for instant noodles.
"Hindi pinaglaban ng mga bayani gaya ni Bonifacio ang ating kalayaan para lamang isuko ang ating teritoryo at makuntento ang mahihirap sa noodles. Patunay lamang na wala pa ring tunay na kalayaan at demokrasya," Arellano said in a statement.
Another group, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas, said the confiscation of fishermen's catch shows that China has completely taken control not only the Philippines' marine territory but also its rich resources.
"We condemn China in the strongest terms possible. They have no single right to occupy our waters in the first place, much more to bully our Filipino fishers by grabbing the fish they caught,” Fernando Hicap, the group's chairperson, said.
He added: "Duterte’s consistent defeatist stand on the sea row has given China a full guarantee that they can do whatever they want inside our territory, even violating the rights and freedom of Filipino fishers to sail in our traditional fishing grounds."
On Monday, Roque personally brought three fishermen from Masinloc, Zambales to a press briefing in Malacanang to prove the point that under Duterte’s government, they are now free to fish at the Panatag Shoal.
According to the fishermen, Chinese coast guard personnel would get the best catch from their boats. But Roque said that everytime they do so, the Chinese would give them noodles, cigarettes and water in exchange. However, the fishermen said that these were not enough to offset their loss.
Roque added the situation where the Chinese controls access to the lagoon is still better compared to what it was under the previous administration, where Filipino fishermen were totally barred from entering the shoal and sometimes chased away by Chinese coast guard water canons.
“Chinese ba ang gobyerno natin o Pilipino? Bakit kailangan pang magpaalam o mag-antay ng pagpayag ng China para lamang makinabang ang mga Pilipino sa sarili niyang yaman? Palibhasa, matagal nang tuta si Duterte,” said Arellano.
The group maintained that real independence means the right to live decently in his own country.
“Iyan ang wala at pinagkakait sa atin ng mga nakaka-insultong salita at pahirap na patakaran sa administrasyon. Napakadaling isuko ang sariling atin at mabuhay ng maluho sa loob ng palasyo habang nabubuhay sa peligro ng kagutuman ang mga kababayan natin,” said Arellano.