Filipino fishermen seek UN Commission on Human Rights intervention against China

Filipino fishermen who are residents of Zambales towns Subic and Masinloc, backed by lawyers Harry L. Roque and Gilbert T. Andres, are requesting the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to urgently intervene, remind, and direct China and its state agents to respect the human rights of Filipino fisherfolks over their traditional fishing grounds and safe refuge in the Bajo de Masinloc also known as Scarborough Shoal.

“The perpetrators of the human rights violations are China’s state agents consisting of the members of the Chinese Coast Guard and other maritime agencies of China who patrol the fishing areas in Scarborough Shoal. These state agents of China are distinguished by their white or orange uniforms, and by the markings on the maritime vessels that they use,” says in the letter addressed to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and UN Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of the Unilateral Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights.

It was stated in the letter that starting April 2012 Filipino fishermen have experienced physical harassment from the members of the Chinese Coast Guard and other Chinese maritime agencies.

“Scarborough Shoal has also been the traditional place of refuge for Filipino fishermen when they experience storms in the West Philippine Sea, as the geological features of the shoal protect these fishermen. They even say that the lagoon inside Scarborough Shoal is calm even during a storm. This is the reason why Scarborough shoal is also known to Filipino fisherfolks as “Panatag Shoal.” Panatag is a Filipino word that literally means ‘tranquil’,” states in the letter.