THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is investigating the recent incident off Ayungin Shoal where Filipino fishermen were allegedly denied by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) to conduct fishing activities in the area.

The PCG said Filipino fishing boat (FFB) Ken-Ken captain Lito Al-os reported to them on Friday, January 20, that CCG vessel 5204 drove them away while fishing in the vicinity waters off Ayungin Shoal on January 9.

“Accordingly, CCGV 5204 maneuvered towards FFB Ken-Ken at a distance of approximately 800 yards and deployed a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB). The CCG personnel onboard the RHIB gestured for the Filipino fishermen to leave the area,” the PCG said.

“Consequently, FFB Ken-Ken altered her course and departed Ayungin Shoal.

However, CCGV 5204 continued to shadow FFB Ken-Ken while underway to Boxall Reef,” it added.

The PCG Task Force Pag-asa immediately deployed additional Coast Guard vessels to strengthen its presence in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and to protect the interest and ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen who conduct fishing operations in the said vicinity waters.

The PCG is collecting evidence and further information that will be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for possible filing of appropriate diplomatic action if they deemed it necessary.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier said China will no longer stop Filipinos from fishing in the disputed waters as there is already an agreement between the two countries established following his state visit to China in the first week of January.

Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jinping also committed to establishing a “direct communication mechanism” to prevent possible miscommunication on issues concerning the WPS. (SunStar Philippines)