Duterte says Filipinos may be allowed to fish at Panatag Shoal

President Rodrigo Duterte revealed on Sunday, October 23, that a discussion about Scarborough Shoal took place between him and Chinese leaders during his state visit to Beijing last week. He also said that there is hope that Filipino fishermen would be allowed to return to the disputed fishing ground in the West Philippine Sea.

In Duterte’s visit to the typhoon-hit provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, he was able to deliver a speech and talk about the happenings during his state visit to Brunei and China.

Particularly, the President relayed to the audience the discussion he had with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the territorial dispute and their agreement to have further talks about the issue despite both having stood their ground on their sovereign rights over the area.

The President claimed that his talk with the Chinese leader was not about arms or about war, but “about helping each other” instead.

“Let us wait for a few more days, we might be able to go back to Scarborough Shoal,” he said in the speech when he visited Cagayan.


The President’s words did not particularly clarified if China confirmed the end of the four-year blockade of the fishing ground to the Filipinos. Duterte said that he was not sure if China will fulfil what was discussed.

However, two Chinese sources who has ties to the Chinese leadership in Beijing told Reuters that China is will consider giving the Filipinos conditional access to the rich fishing ground, known to Filipino fishermen as Panatag Shoal, after a meeting between Duterte and the Chinese President.

Duterte also said that he would ask Filipino fishermen to keep out of the lagoon, which is a spawning ground for the fishes, if they are granted access to the Panatag Shoal again. It was revealed by the President that China also asked their fishermen to keep out of the lagoon.

This is to avoid having “an imbalance in our food supply,” said Duterte.

Duterte also revealed some of the details of his talk with China about the maritime dispute. According to the President, he told the Chinese president that winning the case indicated that the Scarborough belongs to the Philippines. However, the Chinese president also explained that they also cannot give it up because it historically belonged to China.

“I said I will not fight you because I do not see a positive resolution if it will involve killings. It’s the modern times now, we should avoid conflict. He said, ‘We can resolve this case peacefully, without conflict, without bloodshed, but it will take time,’” President Duterte said.

Furthermore, the President said that he told President Xi that it is okay if it would take time for the dispute to be settled as long as the peaceful talks continue.

“One day in the future we will really discuss this. We cannot leave this hanging,” he said to President Xi Jinping.

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