A Chinese Coast Guard rubber boat rammed a Philippine fishing boat carrying 11 Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) earlier this month, according to a report from the Inquirer.
The fishermen, who arrived here early Saturday after a 16-day fishing trip to Panatag Shoal, said they were driven away by the Chinese Coast Guard twice, on March 5 and 6.
The fishermen who were on a 16-day fishing trip on Scarborough Shoal arrived in Subic, Zambales on Saturday said that they were driven away by the Chinese Coast Guard several times, on March 5 and 6.
“One of their rubber boats carried three men in uniform. [They] approached us and told us in English to leave,” Pumicpic said, one of the Filipino fishermen.
“This is China Coast Guard. Go back to Subic,” he said, quoting one of the Chinese coast guards.
“We were surprised that they knew we were from Subic. After telling us to leave, they returned to the shoal and we thought [that was it],” he added.
But few minutes later, the boat returned and rammed their fishing boats several times until it was damaged, he said.
“We were all traumatized by what they did to us. Some of us were shaking. We thought they were going to sink our boat,” he said.
“They wanted to get our service boat,” another fisherman said, Reynante Caitum, 22, adding that the Chinese Coast Guards engaged them in a “tug of war,” pulling the rope tied to a small boat that was aboard the fishing vessel.
“They wanted to get our service boat, but we resisted. We lifted the anchor to pull away and save our lives,” Caitum said.
When the Chinese Coast Guards came again on March 6, they drove them away by blinding laser devices and powerful lights, Pumicpic said.
According to Pumicpic, the incident was recorded on video and has already been submitted to the to the Philippine Coast Guard in Subic.
“We gave the video to the Philippine Coast Guard detachment in Subic. I hope they will make an official report about it,” he said.
Pumicpic said that they have taken out their knives and harpoons to defend themselves, showing no fear to the Chinese coast guards.
“We feared for our lives and we thought of our families. But if they intended to kill us, we were determined to fight back,” he said.
Meanwhile in Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it had no information about the incident.
DFA spokesperson, Charles Jose, said the incident must be verified.
Scarborough Shoal is well within the Philippines’ 370-km exclusive economic zone, located 230 kilometers from Masinloc, Zambales province.
In 2012, China seized the shoal from the Philippines after a two-month standoff against the Philippine coast guards. It has since preventing access to the shoal, driving away Filipino fishermen from their traditional fishing ground.