PHILIPPINE authorities are verifying claims by Filipino fishermen of harassment by the Chinese Coast Guard at a reef which is within the disputed territory in the South China Sea (SCS).
Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said “we are currently verifying this report with our security agencies.”
Bolivar said due to the current positive momentum in Philippines-China relations, the Philippines can raise the alleged harassment issue during bilateral consultation mechanisms set in May.
“We have mechanisms in place where the Philippines can raise such issues. This includes the bilateral consultation mechanism, which is meant to tackle issues of concern in the West Philippine Sea.” The Philippines has named the area in the South China Sea where it has territorial claims West Philippine Sea.
A group of fishermen from Mariveles town in Bataan claimed that a Chinese Coast Guard speedboat circled them near Union Reef and fired warning shots to drive them away.
A news report quoted a fisherman from Mariveles as saying that they were pulling near Union Reef when a speedboat suddenly appeared and chased them away.
They said the speedboat circled their boats, fired warning shots and signaled them to stay away. They suspect that the Chinese Coast Guard is securing a marine construction site in the area.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration awarded to the Philippines a case it filed against China’s excessive nine dash line claim in the SCS. China however refused to recognize the ruling.