Infanta fishermen await verdict, yearn to fish without worries of China
Fishermen from Infanta, Quezon are awaiting verdict on Tuesday by the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague in a case lodged by the Philippines that will allow them to fish the Scarborough Shoal without the threat of being chased by Chinese boats or even attacked with water cannon, Manila Bulletin reported.
“I hope we’ll win the case so we can come back to Scarborough where there’s abundant fish, and improve our lives,” said Henry Dao, a 45 year old local fisherman.
“I have high hopes the court will favor us.” he added.
What began as a standoff over six rocks thrusting above water that were once a shooting area for the US navy took on huge global importance when Manila infuriated Beijing by lodging the encounter under a United Nations’ maritime convention in early 2013.
The 15-point filing didn’t request for a decision on sovereignty, but pursued to set the record straight on its rights in terms of maritime access.
For the fisherfolks who make up a third of Infanta’s 30,000 population, the 16-hour trip to the prized shoal, where they fish for 10 days at a time, are essential but unsafe journeys.
Some Infanta fishermen, though, don’t mind sharing the seas, as long as they can all make ends meet.
“We really do not care,” said Lorenzo, a local fisherman.
“Before China came, we are doing our business alongside Chinese, Vietnamese and even some from Hong Kong. We even exchanged food, drinks and fish catch. Everyone was happy.” he added.