Wednesday, March 6, 2019

DND to verify 'harassment' of PH fisherfolk off Pag-asa Island

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 6, 2019): DND to verify 'harassment' of PH fisherfolk off Pag-asa Island

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has ordered the military to validate the report of Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo, who claimed that Filipino fishermen were harassed in a sandbar near Pag-asa Island, the largest Philippine-occupied feature in the Kalayaan Island Group.

"Based on the initial communication from the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Western Command (Wescom), there has been no substantiated report from our units on the ground confirming Mayor del Mundo’s statement," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement forwarded to reporters Wednesday.

"The AFP, through the Naval Forces West under Wescom, will nonetheless continuously validate and report any information relevant to Mayor del Mundo’s claims," he added.

Andolong also said the area referred to by del Mundo is a traditional fishing ground for the Philippines and other countries, including China and Vietnam.

"According to Wescom, they have been encouraging fishermen from Pag-asa to continue their activities since it has been observed that they have not been fishing in the vicinity of the sandbar, even before the Chinese fishing vessels were sighted in the area. A sheltered port in Pag-asa is currently being constructed to help our fishermen," he said.

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