Today is a sad day for Filipino fishermen. That China would go to great lengths to obstruct a Philippine humanitarian mission to assist our fishermen in their fishing grounds is not only shocking but appalling. Earlier today, China Coast Guard (CCG) and Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) vessels harassed, blocked, water cannoned,
rammed vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) enroute to Panatag Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc) to conduct a regular humanitarian and assistance mission to Filipino Fishing Boats in and around the area.

In line with the transparency policy in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), members of the press – local and foreign – are routinely invited to embed in these regular BFAR Humanitarian and Assistance Missions for fisherfolk
throughout the WPS and our other maritime areas. Today, the embedded press on the PCG and BFAR vessels have not only witnessed but also experienced first-hand – alongside the determined PCG and BFAR personnel – the illegal, coercive, aggressive, and dangerous actions of the agents of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and their
CCG and CMM.

At this time, both PCG and BFAR vessels have regrouped approximately twenty (20) nautical miles from Panatag Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc). They are conducting damage assessments and are reorganizing. Initial reports from PCG and BFAR personnel onboard, as reflected by live media reports, indicate that the PCG vessel suffered some damage to a part of its superstructure from targeted high-pressure water cannoning by CCG vessels. As regards the BFAR
vessel, it sustained damage to its HVAC, electrical, navigation, and radio systems and superficial hull damage as the vessel was subjected to at least eight (8) instances of targeted high-pressure water cannoning from CCG vessels and
was rammed a total of three (3) times by both CCG and CMM vessels.

These latest demonstrations of China’s illegal and irresponsible behavior highlight their egregious disregard for the Philippines’ lawful exercise of its rights and entitlements in our own EEZ. Clearly, China has no regard for the
welfare of our fishermen who only want to make a decent living in the WPS. China’s act of obstructing civilian ships carrying only supplies for our fishermen calls into question the sincerity of their call for dialogue and peaceful
approaches to de-escalate the situation in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines will continue to act peacefully and responsibly, consistent with a rules-based international law, on the basis of UNCLOS and the valid and binding 2016 Arbitral Award. Peace and stability in the region cannot be achieved if countries, big or small, do not exercise due regard for the well-established and legally-settled rights of others. The Philippines will not be deterred from pursuing legitimate and lawful activities in our maritime zones, including in BDM which is a vital source of livelihood for our fisherfolk.

Amianan Balita Ngayon