Chinese coast guards who used to drive away Filipino fishers before, now share food

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Chinese coast guards, who used to drive away Filipino fishermen months ago, shared their food and cigarettes with Filipinos fishing at Scarborough Shoal last week.

“Chinese Coast Guard vessels approached the boats of our fellow fishermen but only to share their food, liquor and cigarettes,” said Wilson Almadin.

Almadin, 41, crew member of fishing boat who returned home from Scarborough on Monday also said other Filipino fishermen shared some of their catch with the Chinese coast guards.

At least eight groups of fishermen from Zambales province sailed to Scarborough Shoal, on Oct. 26 and found they could enter the area without interference from the Chinese Coast Guard, which had been blockading the rich fishing site since 2012.

According to Almadin, the Chinese appeared to prove that tensions at the shoal had eased up.

“We’re now free to fish around the shoal. There’s no tension there …. As long as we will be allowed to stay and fish around the shoal, I think we can coexist with the Chinese Coast Guard,” he said.

According to reports, there are four Chinese Coast Guard vessels still patrolling around the shoal. But they did not seem to mind the presence of Filipino fishermen.

Fishermen who used to frequent the shoal said the area teemed with different kinds of fish such as talakitok, yellow fin tuna, skipjack, blue marlin and red grouper, which are usually not found elsewhere.

Last month, President Duterte discussed the return of Filipino fishermen to the shoal with the Chinese officials during his state visit to China.

“Our President has been true to his promise to help us return to the shoal and we’re thankful for that. We’re hoping that Filipinos will no longer fear being harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard,” said Ronald Polo, another fisherman.

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