China Steals 1.2B kg.Fish/Year; P333B PH Reefs Damages/year;China Virus caused 2.2Trillion PH losses

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China stealing 1.2 B kilos of fish per year from Phl -

Chinese clam poachers making ‘thousands of dollars’ while destroying entire reef in Philippine waters -

Cost of China damage to PH reefs: P33B a year -

P2.2 trillion in losses: Cost of COVID-19 impact on PH economy -

China stealing 1.2 Billion kilos of fish per year from Philippines

China has fished itself out of its own waters, so Chinese fishermen are now sticking their rods in other nations’ seas. Photo Source:

China is stealing 1.2 billion kilos of fish a year from Filipinos. That’s in just two of eight reefs that China grabbed in the West Philippine Sea, experts say. The loot is in stark contrast to Filipinos’ dwindling catch in the area.

Government must resist China’s incessant poaching. Coupled with China’s continuing militarization in the WPS, 350,000 Filipino fishermen are being driven out of livelihoods.

Coral reefs are a major Filipino source of seafood. China intrusion and reef destruction directly affects 26 percent of Filipinos, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said in 2016.

Fish are Filipinos’ cheapest source of food protein. The 1.2 billion kilos of fish stolen yearly by China can feed 28.6 million Filipinos, or 6.8 million families, for half that time.

China’s theft and reef concreting is depleting marine resource, to push food prices up and worsen poverty in Southeast Asia. High value tuna, grouper and scud are becoming scarcer. Fisheries will collapse, warned marine ecologist Dr. John McManus of Rosenstiel School at the University of Miami who studies reefs in the region. If China is stopped, the reefs can begin to recover, he told National Geographic in 2016. Instead China today is taking advantage of world distraction by COVID-19 pandemic to tighten illegal control of the seas.

China grabbed Gaven, Hughes, Johnson South, Cuarteron, Fiery Cross, and Subi Reefs in 1988, Mischief Reef in 1995, and Scarborough Shoal in 2012. All are within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone or extended continental shelf, but well beyond China’s. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has ruled that China’s reef reclamation as island fortresses direly ruined the environment. Poaching goes on too in Recto Bank and around Palawan’s Pag-asa Island.

Philippine fish catch in the WPS has been dropping while China’s is increasing in the WPS, global figures show. China is taking the bulk, said international maritime lawyer Dr. Jay Batongbacal. China’s industrialized fishing fleet dwarfs the Philippines’. Each steel-hulled launch can haul in 12 tons per day, according to Chinese publications. Thus the often sighted 270 Chinese craft in Subi and Mischief alone cumulatively catch 3,240 tons per day. That’s 1,182,600,000 kilos a year, said the head of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea. The nearly 1.2 billion kilos poached in the two reefs matches the entire Philippine catch in the WPS.

Satellite images show Chinese poaching in Scarborough, Recto, Pag-asa, and the other reefs. The intruders are part of China’s fisheries militia based in Hainan, said Prof. Gregory Poling of the Asia Maritime Transparency Institute. “The only reason Chinese fishermen are going out there is because they’re being paid” by Beijing’s communist rulers.

Stolen catch is separate from fish that Filipinos lose from China’s reef devastation. Millions more kilos are deprived from the Philippines.

Corals are fish habitat to spawn and feed. Long studied by Australian conservationist Dr. F. Talbot, a square kilometer of reef yields 15 tons of fish per year. To which Filipino National Scientist Dr. Angel Alcala added that healthy protected Philippine reefs, like Tubbataha in the Sulu Sea, produce up to 37 tons per year. Biodiversity is richer in the equatorial Coral Triangle of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, said president-CEO Joel Palma of Worldwide Fund (WWF) for Nature-Philippines.

The seven reefs listed above were pristine. Then dredgers arrived from Guangdong in 2013 (in Mischief as far back as 1995) to build naval bases, airstrips, and weapons silos. At least 124.32 square kilometers (48 square miles) continuously were ravaged, The Hague court declared.

Going by the conservative 15-ton baseline, Filipinos thus lose 1,865 tons – 1,865,000 kilos – of fish a year from China’s non-stop reef ruin.

Corals yield other resources, said Dr. Deo Florence Onda of the UP Marine Science Institute. Reefs yield new medicines and rare metals, aside from regulating climate. (A square meter of corals also gives forth one to five kilos of sand per year, another physical benefit, Alcala studied.) Citing 2012 global ecosystems survey, Onda said China reef damage costs P33.1 billion a year. That’s P231.7 billion in seven years, said former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario (see Gotcha, 17 June 2020:

Surveys consistently show that nine in ten Filipinos detest China’s encroachment in the WPS, and eight in ten want government to stop it. Officials claim that China is doing it as defense against America, so the Philippines must stay neutral. But Philippine resources are being rendered unusable by Filipinos today and generations to come, said retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, who helped win the Philippine case at The Hague.

A Filipino patriot passed away Saturday, June 27, sadly felled by COVID-19. Former Cebu City congressman Antonio Cuenco was a fighter for democracy against the Marcos dictatorship. More than that he was a nation-builder. From his first election as congressman in 1965 at age 29, to being in opposition in Marcos’ parliament, then back to Congress in 1987-1998 and 2001-2010 Cuenco promoted Filipino ideals and strength. He is noted for authoring the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, years before which he was active in rehabilitation. He assured funding for the National Mapping and Research Information Authority, Navy and Coast Guard, and helped craft the Philippine Baselines Act of 2009. In 2016 and 2019 he was elected Cebu city councilor to continue serving in local capacity. He died with his boots on, age 84, participating up to days before in council video sessions.

To his bereaved family our deepest condolences, and prayers for the eternal repose of his good soul.

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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Chinese clam poachers making ‘thousands of dollars’ while destroying entire reef in Philippine waters

Filipino scientists planted Scarborough clams harvested by Chinese

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Chinese poachers are making “thousands of dollars” by extracting clams in the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea and selling them, a US think tank expert said. But such a lucrative business has also destroyed the resource-rich waters’ marine environment and could cost coastal communities their livelihoods.

According to an ABS-CBN News report, the Chinese continue to harvest giant clams at Scarborough, locally known as “Panatag” and is considered as a traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales on the western shores of the Philippine island of Luzon.

"Nakaimbento ng proseso sina Dr. (Edgardo) Gomez para mag-breed ng mga shell, mga giant clam shell kaya nung successful 'yon marami silang dinala doon binalik sa Scarborough," Batongbacal said in an interview with radio dzMM Friday.

The maritime expert also noted that the Chinese vessels are killing the giant clams and are only after the shells.

According to Batongbacal, the Chinese are using the shells as a substitute for ivory in carving and jewelry.

"Kaya nga po nagulat tayo nung 2012, kahit si Prof. Gomez ng MSI, nung una akala niya ginagamit 'yung mga shell para lang pantambak pero 'yun pala meron trade talaga 'yung shell na Taklobo ang ginagamit sa carving and libu-libong dolyares po ang halaga ng bentahan sa China ng mga ganyan," Batongbacal said.

Each giant shell is estimated to be worth at least P25,000, according to the maritime expert.

China's activitiy of extracting giant clams from Scarborough Shoal damages the ecosystem in the traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales.

"Kung mawala po ang Taklobo ay masisira at maaaring hindi na magtagal ang ating coral reef at mahirap nga po ngayon ang sama ng ginagawa ng mga Chinese. Hinuhukay pa nila 'yung mga coral reef, sinisira po nila 'yun para makuha itong mga Taklobo na ito," the professor said.

The Philippine government should definitely raise the activity of Chinese fishermen in the South China Sea as it appears that they are the only ones harvesting giant clams from the area.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier called out China's continuous extraction of giant clams in Scarborough Shoal, pointing out that it violates Philippine sovereignty.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said his department will be taking legal action into the activities of the Chinese in the area.


Cost of China damage to PH reefs: P33B a year

SHATTERED CORALS Fragile corals, living organisms that also provide shelter to fish and other marine creatures, take decades to grow but can be destroyed in mere seconds through harmful fishing methods by poachers and illegal fishermen. Scientists say declining fish catch is a sign of continuing reef destruction resulting in lostmarine resources valued at about P33 billion yearly.—PHOTO COURTESY OF DR. DEO FLORENCE ONDA OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES’ MARINE SCIENCE INSTITUTE

The Philippines is losing about P33.1 billion annually from the damaged reef ecosystems at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and the Spratly Islands mainly due to China’s reclamation activities and illegal fishing operations, according to Filipino marine scientists.

Deo Florence Onda, a scientist with the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute (UP MSI), on Wednesday said the figure, while already staggering, was a “conservative estimate,” considering the complex marine biodiversity of the country.

“The value includes all the services that we get from the coral reefs like climate regulation and the benefits we get from the ecosystem,” he said at a forum organized by conservation group Oceana Philippines.

Onda said the amount of losses was determined using the baseline value of $353,429 (P18 million) per hectare per year for coral reefs that was arrived at in a study by a Dutch information and analytics company.

While the reefs remain damaged, the country loses that much annually, he said.

The study, “Global estimates of the value of ecosystems and their services in monetary value,” was done in 2012 by Elsevier, one of the world’s major providers of scientific, technical and medical information.

Satellite images showed the damaged reef ecosystems at Panatag covered 550 hectares and 1,300 ha in the Spratlys group.

Unchecked by gov’t

Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said the figures did not include areas not visible to satellites.

While the Chinese are not the only poachers in Philippine waters, the mass harvesting of giant clams by Chinese fishermen and China’s massive reclamation to build seven artificial islands caused the most severe damage.

If these activities remain unchecked by the government, Onda said the decline in the country’s fisheries output would continue and could threaten the country’s food security.

Batongbacal said poaching had also led to falling fish catch for the Philippines while China’s production was going up.

“We aren’t joking when we say that if we do not stop Chinese fishers from our seas, they will likely drain all our marine resources in just a few years,” he said. “In Scarborough Shoal, they even destroy the reefs themselves … If this continues, the shoal would be completely wiped out in five years.”

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno said the government had been “remiss in its constitutional obligation to protect our marine resources and fisherfolk.”

He cited the ramming and sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese trawler, which then abandoned 22 Filipinos struggling in the water before they were rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.


Onda said the country’s various ecosystems were interconnected and it would be unwise to focus on just one.

The scientist was reacting to remarks made by Supreme Court Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr. during oral arguments on Tuesday on a petition for a writ of kalikasan seeking protection for the country’s marine resources, particularly in the West Philippine Sea.

Kalayaan Palawan Farmers and Fisherfolk Association filed the petition.

Reyes said the government did not have the resources to guard all the country’s shoals, suggesting instead to spend the money it had to rehabilitate the heavily polluted Pasig River.

“If we want to understand how we live,” Onda said, “we need to understand the entirety of the ecosystem. There is a strong connection between the land and the seas. Not protecting one will affect the other.”

Issues concerning the environment and natural resources should not be “compartmentalized” as there are many Filipinos who depend on these ecosystems for food and livelihood, he added.

Department of Fisheries, Oceans

“We have been treating the environment separately, but in fact, we should be treating it as one unit. As a decent human being, I think it should not be a question [of whether] we should protect it,” he said. “We should not [have to choose] on what we should protect and not.”

In a statement presented at the Oceana forum, UP MSI scientists said they supported the creation of a single government agency to oversee the use and protection of the country’s waters.

“As the Philippines transitions to blue economy, we call on the creation of a separate Department of Fisheries and Oceans that will be mandated to study, utilize, manage and protect the largest ecosystem and future biggest contributor to the Philippine economy—our oceans and seas,” the statement said.

According to the World Bank,  blue economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.

For better coordination

Fisheries management is currently under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, which is under the Department of Agriculture, but marine protection is under the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“If it’s [all] under one agency, then perhaps the coordination can be better because you are not only considering resources in terms of economics, such as fisheries, but you are also considering the ocean as an ecosystem,” Onda told reporters.

“The government’s management policies, both in terms of ecological and economic [concerns], will jibe together under one agency,” he added. “There are a lot of services that our oceans can offer, and we still have not maximized that.”

Citing a 2018 report by Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia, Onda said the ocean economy contributed to some 7 percent of gross domestic product.

That is a conservative figure as more than half of the country’s population live in coastal communities and a vast majority of Filipinos rely on marine resources for various needs, he added.


P2.2 trillion in losses: Cost of COVID-19 impact on PH economy

Coronavirus snaps Philippines' 21-year growth streak

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The COVID-19 crisis will cost the Philippine economy P2.2 trillion in losses this year as firms shed profits while millions of workers lose their jobs and income.

To ease the economic pain inflicted by the pandemic, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua told the business community at an online seminar on Thursday that an additional P846-billion stimulus was needed.

The amount had been calculated to not add pressure to the already widening budget deficit which had jumped to 10,000 percent of April 2019 level.

Chua’s presentation showed that in case the economy shrinks by 3.4 percent in 2020—the worst case scenario—nominal gross domestic product (GDP) will fall to P19.3 trillion from P19.5 trillion in 2019.

The economic team had projected contraction of 2 to 3.4 percent.

Before the pandemic, Philippine GDP had been projected to rise to P21.5 trillion.

Profit and wage losses accounted for the bulk—P1.919 trillion or 87 percent of estimated total value-added loss for 2020.

Chua said that of the P846 billion needed to revive the economy, only P173 billion, equivalent to 0.9 percent of GDP, will have to be shelled out by the government through a fiscal stimulus program embedded in the proposed Philippine Program for Recovery with Equity and Solidarity (PH-Progreso) being pitched by the economic team to Congress.

PH-Progreso included the proposed Bayanihan 2, Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act (FIST) and Guide bills—capital and spending support to businesses and consumers.

The proposed measures seek to provide liquidity to banks and companies.

The economic team was also pushing for the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act which seeks to slash corporate income tax to 25 percent in July while providing flexible tax incentives to investors.

Under Create, forgone revenues had been estimated to hit P42 billion during the second half of this year—at a time when tax collections were low amid a recession on top of a projected P625-billion loss in the next five years.

Chua noted that fiscal measures under PH-Progreso would slightly jack up the projected budget deficit for 2020 to 9 percent of GDP, higher than the 8.1-percent ceiling approved by the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) this month, equivalent to P1.563 trillion.

On the other hand, the P673 billion, equivalent to 3.5 percent of GDP, needed for additional stimulus, can come from budget savings, off-budget items, monetary policy, financial sector regulatory relief and private sector contribution, which won’t add to the deficit, Chua said.

Chua told another forum hosted by The Manila Times also on Thursday that instead of a Bayanihan 2 bill, it will more practical to extend the validity of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act until yearend.

“This is simplest mode,” said Chua.

He said extending the validity of the Bayanihan law would keep budget and procurement flexible, allow transfer of allocations and changes in priorities in the use of 2019 savings and this year’s budget.

To support small businesses, Chua said the government was looking into another round of wage subsidies for workers, while also imposing a “temporary and targeted wage reduction to keep jobs” moving forward.

Chua said the ongoing P51-billion small business wage subsidy (SBWS) program so far already benefitted close to 3.4 million employees of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that were shuttered or struggled to pay salaries.

The first tranche of P5,000 to P8,000 in wage subsidies was distributed in the first half of May, with another tranche for disbursement in the second half of the month.

“We’re ready to provide more (wage subsidy) but it should be very targeted,” Chua said.


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