|Source: Philippines V. China: Arbitration Outcomes at https://amti.csis.org/arbitration-map/|
The fishing folks of the northern towns of Zambales and Infanta, Pangasinan could have felt a strong sense of victory after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (the Tribunal) issued a unanimous Award on 12 July 2016 in the arbitration instituted by the Philippines against China.
When they heard about the Award. they could have wanted to board their boats right away and head for the Scarborough Shoal (Panatag, Bajo de Masinloc) to fish freely and without fear of harassment from the Chinese Coast Guard.
After all, "the Tribunal found that China had violated the Philippines' sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands, and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. The Tribunal also held that fishermen from the Philippines (like those from China) had traditional fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered with these rights in restricting access. The Tribunal further held that Chinese law enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels."
|The 1734 map by Jesuit Fr Pedro Murillo Velarde. (Source: US Library of Congress)|
In Paragraph 762 of the 501-page Award, the Tribunal noted that "[h]istorical cartography evidences a connection between Scarborough Shoal and the Philippine mainland. A map of the Philippines produced in 1734 included the shoal; another produced in 1784 labelled Scarborough Shoal as "Bajo de Masinloc". Other documents provided by the Philippines--including a 1953 book published by its Bureau of Fisheries--depict Scarborough Shoal as having historically served as one of the "principal fishing areas for Filipino fishermen."
The Tribunal took the "[a]ffidavits of six fishermen interviewed by the Philippines" as confirmation of "the practice of fishing at Scarborough Shoal in recent generations, providing direct documentation of Philippine fishing activities in the area at least since 1982 and indirect evidence from 1972. Fishes caught at the shoal--primarily using spear and net fishing methods--have historically included "[b]onito, talakitok, tanguige and other species of fish found beneath of near rocks.(Paragraph 763).
The 501-page Award document in pdf format can be retrieved from https://pca-cpa.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/175/2016/07/PH-CN-20160712-Award.pdf