Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo

The number of Chinese fishing vessels (CFVs) around the island town of Kalayaan has decreased in the past months, Mayor Roberto del Mundo said Tuesday.

Del Mundo told Palawan News on Tuesday the Chinese fishing vessels seen daily are now down to seven from the previous daily sightings of more than 50.

“Lumiit na ngayon [ang bilang] halos nasa pito na lang. Dati marami ‘yan pero as usual nandiyan lang sila sa paligid,” he said.

Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo

Del Mundo said the reduced number of CFVs in the area may be attributed to the recent meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Maganda ang status ngayon, dala na rin siguro ng coordination ng Pilipinas sa China. Maganda kasi iilan na lang, bilang na bilang na lang kung ilan sila,” he pointed out.

Del Mundo said that during their travel to Kalayaan on May 3 and May 15, “there was no harassment from the Chinese.”

“Paglayag namin wala naman masyado, wala naman ‘yong sinasabi na harassment, mga humahabol, wala na. Diretso lang [ang byahe], maganda,” he added.

Earlier, Vice Admiral Rene Medina, commander of the Western Command (WESCOM), said increased daily sightings in the past near Pag-asa Island did not pose any threat against Filipino fishermen.

“So far walang [threat], wala po. We also have our constant coordination with higher headquarters, particularly with the National Task Force on West Philippine Sea (NTFWPS) chaired by the national security adviser. We also have a weekly report and update regarding the chinese fishing vessels and other foreign vessels. Marami, may Chinese, Vietnamese vessels [around the Pag-asa] then Filipino fishing vessels, but karamihan ay Chinese pa rin, they are there,” Medina said.

Del Mundo said the increase of Chinese presence in the area is maybe because of the ongoing construction of a beaching ramp on the island from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.