China appears to have acceded to President Rodrigo Duterte’s wish to allow Filipino fishermen to fish at Scarborough Shoal, with Malacañang noting the absence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in the disputed portion of the South China Sea a week after he flew to Beijing.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Friday (Oct. 28) said Filipino fishermen are now able to fish freely at the shoal.
“Regarding fishing in Scarborough Shoals, for the past three days it has been observed that there are no longer any Chinese Coast Guard vessels and that Filipino fishing boats are no longer being intercepted and that they are now able to fish in the area without being intercepted,” he said in a press conference.
Duterte earlier expressed his hope that Filipino fishermen could resume fishing at the disputed shoal after he went on a four-day state visit to China from Oct. 18 to 21.
He confirmed that the shoal was brought up during his meeting with Chinese officials though he was scant on the details.
“Let us just wait for a few more days, maybe we could return to Scarborough Shoal,” Duterte said last Oct. 23.