- The DFA has advised Filipino fishermen to stay out of China-occupied shoals in the West Philippine Sea
- Spokesperson Charles Jose said it would be a wise decision, for now, to avoid harassment by Chinese troops
- Jose added that the Philippines may have won the case in court, but the reality on the ground is different
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines may have won the case in court, but it’s clear who’s seemingly winning it on the ground.
This became clear after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) advised Filipino fishermen to steer clear of the shoals currently occupied by China in the West Philippine Sea.
DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said it would be better for Filipino fishermen to stay away from Scarborough Shoal – for now – to avoid being harassed by Chinese troops stationed in the area.
“We are aware that China is occupying Scarborough Shoal, so let us wait for clarity on how our fishermen can return there without being subjected to harassment anymore,” said Jose during an interview with reporters.
The DFA official added that while Manila may have won the arbitration case, China remains defiant and rejected the tribunal decision by refusing to leave their occupied territory; a “reality on the ground” that the Philippines has to face and contend with.
“The reality is that China is there so we must discuss this,” said Jose; adding it would be a wise decision to avoid the shoal for now until the conflict is resolved with China. “This is for the safety of everyone.”
Earlier, China’s Supreme People’s Court warned that illegal fishers caught in the area will be arrested and punished with up to one year imprisonment for violation of the country’s territorial sovereignty.
Despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling in favor of the Philippines in the controversial maritime case, conflict in the West Philippine Sea persists after China vowed to send more naval patrols in the coming days in an attempt not only to challenge the court decision, but also the United States’ dominance and influence in the Asia-Pacific region.