Duterte to Filipino fishermen: ‘Go back to Panatag Shoal to fish’

All’s well that ends well.

President Rodrigo Duterte may had scored positive response from China after all after the Filipino fishermen were told they can fish anew in the contested Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal “in a few days.”

“We’ll just wait for a few more days. We may be able to return to Scarborough Shoal and our countrymen may be able to fish there again,” according to Duterte.

Citing the new commercial alliance with China, Duterte said the Scarborough Shoal was discussed during his four-day trip to China. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Duterte have agreed to strengthen fishery cooperation in the West Philippine Sea.

“I said we won, but (Xi) said ‘it is ours historically and we won’t give it up’,” Duterte said. “I told him we won’t pick a fight. No solutions will emerge when we kill each other.”

Duterte said Xi agreed to solve the maritime dispute peacefully although he was told, “it might take time.”

He said the Filipinos should regain fishing rights in Scarborough Shoal. Two Chinese sources with ties to the leadership said China would consider giving Filipino fishermen conditional access to the disputed waters as relations between the Philippines and China improve.

The Scarborough Shoal was taken by China back in 2012 and the Chinese military patrolling the area had since prohibited the Filipino fishermen from fishing in the area.

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