National security adviser says decision meant to ease tension in disputed waters
BOLINAO, Pangasinan — The Navy has stopped sending patrols to the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to ease tension with China, the national security adviser, Hermogenes Esperon Jr., said here last week.
“We do not send Navy ships to the area anymore. We send only the Philippine Coast Guard and fishing boats there so the Chinese no longer harass you there,” Esperon told fishermen when he led the distribution of fishing boats, gear and equipment for the fishing communities of this western Pangasinan town on Friday.
But Esperon also encouraged the fishermen to report to authorities any experience of bullying from the Chinese, “so we would know what to do.”
“It’s just Coast Guard to Coast Guard and fishermen to fishermen, so we are avoiding conflict [at Panatag],” he said.
The Philippines, China and Taiwan claim Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (also known as South China Sea).