May 13, 2017
Reports: Shohei Kato and Crisanto Balleta
Video: Crisanto Balleta
Editors: Crisanto Balleta and Virgilio DC Galvez
Almost seven months after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte persuaded China to allow Filipino fishermen to fish in and around Panatag shoal, a Japanese reporter and Filipino cameraman of the Daily Manila Shimbun journeyed to the contested territory from Infanta, Pangasinan.
The report chronicles the daily activities of Filipino fishermen as they sail to Panatag to harvest whatever they can from the shoal’s rich fishing grounds under the watchful eye of Chinese forces.
Panatag is 134 nautical miles west of Luzon. It is part of the Spratlys group of islands, reefs and shoals in the West Philipine Sea, also known as the South China Sea. The Spratlys is claimed, in whole and in part, by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei.
Known to Filipino fishermen as Kalboro, which was taken from the shoal’s English name Scarborough, Panatag is now controlled by China which occupied the shoal in April, 2012 after a standoff with Philippine navy ships.
The DMS team joined a group of 31 fishermen, most of them having sailed from Cebu, on board a mother ship and three fishing boats. The left Infanta at almost 9 am on April 16, 2017 and reached Panatag at about 8 am, the next day.
This is the first of a six-part series that will be released weekly starting May 12, 2017. (Text by Virgilio DC. Galvez)
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