A Chinese coast guard vessel allegedly fired water cannons at Filipino fishermen’s boats to drive them away from Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), which China claimed was part of their territory. The incident happened at about 2 p.m. on April 9.
The 80 fishermen aboard eight boats, however, asserted that they were just fishing in their traditional grounds.
Deogenes Corseles, one of the fishermen, said that one of them fell off the boat and sustained injuries. He recalled that the Chinese ship asked them to leave then blasted water in their direction.
“The Chinese vessel was about 150 meters from our boats when its personnel fired a water cannon. One of us fell off the boat and sustained injuries,” Corseles said.
The Filipino fishermen immediately left the shoal after the incident but returned to catch fish the next days.
Jun Rey Barrios, another of the fishermen, said that Chinese coast guard personnels aboard rubber boats chased them on April 11.
“Two of the Chinese coast guard personnel held guns that were pointed at our direction. They also took some of our fresh catch and cut off our nylon anchor lines,” Barrios said.
The Philippine government then investigated the incident and sought to see if it was another case of harassment. They had already contacted the Philippine Coast Guard to get an official statement.
“We are still in the process of verifying and ascertaining the details of any such incident,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.
For the meantime, the national government had been ‘improving the capacity’ of the Philippine Navy and the Coast Guard to enable the government to monitor and attend to such incidents should they happen again.