Alec Marc Reguya

In a display of perseverance against China’s persecution, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) dismantled the floating barriers installed by the Chinese Coast Guard within the disputed territory in the Bajo De Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal, of the West Philippine Sea.

Photo Courtesy of Philippine Coast Guard

On September 22, PCG and the Bureau of Fisheries Aquatic Resources arranged to resupply local fishermen with food and fuel during their routine patrol in the Scarborough Shoal – when the authorities discovered the Chinese-deployed floating barrier.

Measuring about 300 meters in length, such a barrier represents a clear violation of international law as it restricts Filipino fishing vessels from entering the southeastern part of the shoal.

Leonardo Cuaresma, President of the New Masinloc Fishermen Association, likened themselves as thieves fishing on their own waters, as Filipino fishermen are being blocked and shooed away by Chinese vessels from the Scarborough Shoal.

In reaction to the tough maneuver by the Philippines in the removal of the floating barrier, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin called on the country to cease “making provocations and seeking troubles” as their country continues to assert their so-called sovereignty and maritime rights over Scarborough Shoal.

“Provocation na ba ‘yun sa kanila?” was Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro's quick response to China's statement regarding the removal of the floating barriers.

It can be recalled that recently, PCG was fired by water cannons by their Chinese counterpart. Moreover, China extended their maritime claims by releasing a map showing a 10-dash line.

“Ano ba ang provocation? ‘Yung paglalagay ng barrier or pagtatanggal ng ilegal na harang? [...] Ayaw nating awayin ang China, ayaw natin ang giyera. Pero ang teritoryo natin, kailangang angkinin," Teodoro added, highlighting the importance of Philippines’ sovereign rights.

An unfamiliar, familiar situation

PCG Spokesperson for the West PH Sea Commodore Tarriela bared that the installation of the floating barrier in the West Philippine Sea is not a new activity by China. 

Tarriela further explained in an interview on ANC that China does this whenever they observe a significant number of Filipino fishing vessels in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal.

Based on local fishermen's accounts, Tarriela said that this has been happening even in past administrations yet this is the first time the government took action.

Furthermore, Commodore Tarriela admitted that there are four Chinese Coast Guard vessels stationed in Scarborough Shoal, within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The 2016 arbitral ruling sets Scarborough Shoal as a traditional fishing ground and is open to ordinary fishermen from three countries – Philippines, China, and Vietnam. 

However, the presence of Chinese Coast Guard limits Filipino fishermen's access to the shoal, especially the Vietnamese, as Tarriela further stressed that they [Vietnamese] are not even in the picture in this highly contested territory.


Alec Marc Reguya is a 3rd year BA Communication Research student from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines - Sta. Mesa. He is a former managing editor and a senior news writer for The Communicator – PUP College of Communication’s official student-publication.