A Chinese Coast Guard vessel rammed three Philippine fishing boats carrying 29 Filipino fishermen in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), a disputed fishing ground in the West Philippine Sea, which China is claiming to be part of its territory.
The incident reportedly happened Friday morning last week, January 30, when one of the Chinese vessels patrolling the shoal hit the fishermen’s three boats, destroyed its outriggers and drove them away.
While no one was hurt, the fishermen were traumatized by the incident as they recalled two Chinese Coast Guard personnel pointed guns at their direction.
“We were out at sea for five days when big waves and strong winds forced us to seek refuge in the shallow waters of the shoal,” one of the fisherman said while adding that the Chinese vessel repeatedly blew its horn as it approached their boats, Inquirer reported.
The fishermen were also quoted saying that at least 10 Chinese vessels were roaming the shoal at that time and some of their personnel were armed.
The incident was already reported to Philippine Coast Guard.
The dispute over the Panatag Shoal continues between the Philippine and Chinese government with China rejecting the Philippines effort to bring the territorial dispute to arbitration.
Panatag Shoal is part of the Municipality of Masinloc, Province of Zambales located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and is within the 200 nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone and Philippine Continental Shelf.