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DFA: Ayungin Shoal is a part of the PH EEZ and Filipinos are permitted to fish there.

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According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Filipinos are free to fish in Ayungin Shoal because it is a part of the nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

The announcement was made in the wake of news that on January 9, the Chinese Coast Guard chased away a Filipino fishing boat off the coast of Ayungin Shoal.

“The Philippines’ continental shelf and exclusive economic zone include Ayungin Shoal. Without outside interference, the Philippines may exercise its sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the region “Ma. Teresita Daza, a DFA spokeswoman, stated.

According to Philippine and international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS and the definitive and binding 2016 Arbitral Award, Filipino fishermen are allowed to exercise their rights and seize what is rightfully theirs.

With the BRP Sierra Madre, a Philippine military vessel that is currently in active service, the Philippines established a permanent presence on Ayungin Shoal in 1995, she continued.

To inform its diplomatic response to the situation, the DFA is presently awaiting formal findings from the concerned government agencies.

Especially after the discussions between President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the former’s state visit to China, Daza said the DFA keeps an eye on any developments in the West Philippine Sea.

Lito Al-os, the skipper of the Filipino fishing boat (FFB), reported the incident to the Philippine Coast Guard on January 20. He said that at that time, the Chinese Coast Guard vessel 5204 sailed towards FFB KEN-KEN at a distance of around 800 yards and deployed a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB).

The Filipino fisherman was motioned to leave the area by CCG officials on board the RHIB, and the FFB KEN-KEN changed direction and departed Ayungin Shoal.

However, the boat’s captain said that the CCG followed it as it traveled to Boxall Reef.

After Marcos’ state visit to China from January 3 to 5, when he and his Chinese counterpart decided to create a direct line of communication for issues relating to the South China Sea, the event happened shortly after that.

Following the incident, according to Marcos, the Philippine government used this method right away.

Meanwhile, as of the time of this publishing, the Chinese Embassy in Manila has not yet issued a statement.

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