MASINLOC, Zambales: Mayor Desiree Edora of this town on Saturday likened the disputed Scarborough Shoal to a treasured pot of gold suddenly taken away by a giant or formidable bandit.
She said local fisherfolk used to enjoy fishing in the shoal that they shared with other fishermen from different towns in the Philippines and neighboring countries of Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan.
“Our fishermen treasure Scarborough Shoal as a paradise fishing ground. It serves as their refuge from giant waves in times of typhoons. For them, the shoal is a safe place to stay in times of weather disturbances and dangerous sea journeys,” the mayor added.
Edora said the Sangguniang Bayan of Masinloc passed a resolution in 2011 claiming Bajo de Masinloc as part of the town adjacent to the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) until China on April 8, 2012 claimed it as part of its territory.
“From then on, fishermen of Masinloc were barred. It is like having our own house but we are not allowed to live in it,” she noted.
The mayor said 30 percent of the population of Masinloc depend on fishing as their main source of income.
The controversial issue on Scarborough had greatly affected not only our local fisherfolk but also the community,” she added.
“Our community cannot do anything in terms of international security and territorial disputes but we cannot deny the fact that we are disturbed socially, culturally and economically, especially our fisherfolk,” Edora said.
Willy Ebito, a fisherman, said they used to earn P2,000 a day, even up to P5,000 if they caught lobsters when fishing at Scarborough Shoal.
“Now, we only earn P300 a day,” he added.