Duterte: 'No outright seizure” in Chinese coast guard getting catch of Filipino fishermen

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(Presidential Photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 18) — For the first time, President Rodrigo Duterte talked about reports of Chinese coast guard personnel allegedly stealing the catch of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal.

The President described the incident as a form of “barter.”

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque earlier said the incident was not harassment pointing out that whenever the Chinese coast guard would take the catch of Filipino fishermen, they would give them cigarettes and water in return.

Although the President did say that there’s a problem in terms of valuation — or the value of the items being traded — President Duterte said and “it was not an outright seizure.”

“It was a barter. In exchange for the isda [fish]. Eh ang problema ang [The problem is in the] valuation, we don’t have a way of... In a barter, it’s wishful thinking, the value of that...Hindi tayo nagkakaintindihan dito [We do not understand each other here]. It was not an outright seizure,” he said.

Roque was quick to clarify what the Commander in Chief meant saying while the President referred to the incident as a“barter,” it does not mean it was acceptable to the President.

“Hindi naman po, kaya sinabi nga po ni Presidente — hindi naman nagkakasundo sa valuation. So kung magkakaroon ng barter, dapat siguro eh mas malinaw kung ano yung pinagkasunduan nung partido, at siguro kung gusto talaga nilang mag-barter, maghimasok na yung mga gobyerno ng Tsina at ng Pilipinas dahil hindi sila nagkakaintindiahn gaya ng sinabi ni Presidente. Siguro dapat magkaron ng interpreters don," he said.

[Translation: The President said the valuation was not equal. So if barter were to happen, what was agreed upon should be clear, and if they really want to barter, China and the Philippines should be involved because they did not understand each other as the President said. Maybe interpreters should be present.]

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the coast guards of both the Philippines and China are coordinating to improve how these barters could improve.

He said perhaps better protocols are being studied.

"So ang maaaring mangyari dito ay sabihan ng China ang kanilang coast guard na no contact policy. And problema sa no contact policy, meron tayong cases na nasiraan yung mga mangingisda, tinulungan ng Chinese. May mga cases tayo na ang mga lumalapit sa ship at sumesensyas na gusto nila magbarter," he said.

[Translation: What could happen here is China could tell its coast guard that there should be a no contact policy. The problem with a no contact policy is there are cases of fishermen's boats breaking down and the Chinese would help them. There are cases of (fishermen) approaching the ship and signalling they want to barter.]

The President was the guest speaker at the 120th founding anniversary celebration of the Department of Foreign Affairs where he discussed his actions towards China’s aggressiveness in disputed areas in the South China Sea.

President Duterte said the government had filed a protest in relation to Chinese bombers deployed at the disputed Woody Island which he stressed was not even among those being claimed by the Philippines.

After reiterating he would eventually discuss with China the arbitral ruling favoring the Philippines’ claims in Scarborough Shoal, he said China was no pushover and it cannot be scared.