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Mr.

ZEID RA'AD AL HUSSEIN


UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
email : InfoDesk@ohchr.org
Ms. HILAL ELVER
UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE
OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
email: urgent-action@ohchr.org

RIGHT TO FOOD

MR. IDRISS JAZAIRY


UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR

ON THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF THE


UNILATERAL COERCIVE MEASURES ON THE ENJOYMENT OF HUMAN
RIGHTS

Palais des Nations CH-1211 Geneva 10


Fax : + 41 22 917 9006
email : ucm@ohchr.org
Sent by: email
Infanta, Pangasinan
Philippines
22 September 2015
Subject: Urgent appeal in relation to the massive and
gross human rights violations committed against Filipino
fishermen in the fishing grounds of the Scarborough Shoal

(Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc) by the state agents of


the Peoples Republic of China
Dear Mr. Hussein, Ms. Elver, and Mr. Jazairy:
We respectfully submit that you consider this urgent appeal
in relation to the human rights violations committed against
Filipino fisherfolks in the fishing grounds of the Scarborough Shoal
(locally known as Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc) by the
state agents of the Peoples Republic of China.
We request that you urgently intervene, remind, and direct
China and its state agents to respect the human rightsincluding
the right to livelihood, the right to adequate food, and the right to
life--- of the Filipino fisherfolks over their traditional fishing
grounds and safe refuge in the Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal
or Bajo de Masinloc) in accordance with Chinas international
obligation under (a) the International Covenant on Economic,
Social, and Cultural Rights, (b) the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, and (c) customary international law.
I. Who are the alleged victims
The victims are Filipino fisherfolks who reside in the coastal
town of Infanta, province of Pangasinan, Philippines, as well as
from the coastal town of Sta. Cruz, province of Zambales. These
Filipino fisherfolks are longtime fishermen who journey to the
marine-resource rich fishing grounds of Scarborough Shoal
(known locally as Bajo de Masinloc and also as Panatag Shoal)
and also use it as a safe refuge during inclement weather. The
Filipino fisherfolk-victims are:
1)
2)

Mario Tabat, 59
Domingo Cabacungan, 43
2

3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)
9)
10)
11)
12)
13)
14)
15)
16)

Elmer Roldan, 28
Edwin Roldan, 23
Alladin Muoz, 44
Bonifacio Villaram, 32
Rani Espinosa, 36
Francisco Bugawe, 45
Sonny Sibulan, 24
Oliver Bejar, 25
Ruel Beltran, 43
Peljun Poloso, 41
Jowe Legaspi, 45
Vicente Paluan, Jr., 38
Ricardo Paluan, 46
Eddie Salvador, 30
II. Who are the alleged perpetrators of the violation
The perpetrators of the human rights violations are Chinas
state agents consisting of the members of the Chinese Coast
Guard and other maritime agencies of China who patrol the
fishing areas in Scarborough Shoal. These state agents of China
are distinguished by their orange uniforms, and by the markings
on the maritime vessels that they use.

III.Identification
submitting

of the
the

persons or organizations
communication

The Filipino fisherfolk-victims are represented in this urgent


appeal by the Center for International Law Inc., a Philippine
registered
non-governmental organization, and
specifically by:
3

HARRY L.
ROQUE, JR., Esq.
Counsel of record
GILBERT T. ANDRES, Esq
Co-Counsel of record
IV. Date, place and detailed description
circumstances of the incidents or the violation
A.

of

the

General Introduction on the Scarborough Shoal

1) Scarborough Shoal is located in the West Philippine Sea and


is about 120 nautical miles west of Zambales province,
Philippines. It is within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic
zone (EEZ) of the Philippines. Scarborough shoal is also known as
Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc to the fisherfolks of
Zambales province, Philippines. Panatag is a Filipino word that
literally means tranquil, as Scarborough Shoal has been the
long-time refuge of Filipino fishermen when they experience
storms in the West Philippine Sea.
2) The Scarborough or Panatag Shoal is a triangular-shaped
chain of reefs and rocks surrounding a lagoon. 1 It has a perimeter
of 46 kilometers and an area of 150 square kilometers, making it
a rich fishing ground.2
1http://globalnation.inquirer.net/124650/small-ph-fishermen-losers-in-sea-

dispute (last accessed 20 June 2015).


4

Photo 1. A top view of Scarborough Shoal


(Source: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/112114/maritime-affairs-expert-separates-factsfrom-fiction-on-scarborough-shoal)

3) Scarborough is a rich source of fish catch for the fisherfolks


of Pangasinan province, as well as the fisherfolks of Zambales and
Bataan.
The shoal is a source of various species of fish
such as cavalla (talakitok), yellowfin, skipjack, blue marlin and
red grouper.3 The fishes are visible to the eye, and can be easily
caught. Lobsters also abound in the shoal. Scarborough shoal has
been a major source of food and livelihood for the named victims
in this urgent appeal. Even if Scarborough Shoal is about eighteen
(18) hours away, by wooden fishing boat, from the coastal towns
of Masinloc and Subic, the fisherfolks from these towns still travel
to Scarborough Shoal due to the rich marine resource in that area.
2

Id.

Id.
5

4) The victims have been fishing in Scarborough shoal for


several years already.
5) Scarborough Shoal has also been the traditional place of
refuge for Filipino fishermen when they experience storms in the
West Philippine Sea, as the geological features of the shoal
protect these fishermen. They even say that the lagoon inside
Scarborough Shoal is calm even during a storm. This is the reason
why Scarborough shoal is also known to Filipino fisherfolks as
Panatag Shoal. Panatag is a Filipino word that literally means
tranquil,
6) Starting from April 2012, and on various subsequent
occasions, the fisherfolk-victims have experienced physical
harassment from the members of the Chinese Coast Guard and
other Chinese maritime agencies.

Specific instances of harassment by Chinas state agents


B.Mario Tabat and the seizure of his fishing equipments
7) Mario Tabat, 59, is a resident of the nearby Sta. Cruz town
of Zambales province, Philippines.

Photo 2. Mario Tabat narrates his traumatic experience at Scarborough Shoal. (Photo credit:
GTA)

8) Mario has been fishing in the Scarborough Shoal for a long


time already, as far back as in the 1980s. He has five (5) children.
He goes fishing in the Scarborough Shoal since he can harvest
more fishes in the shoal. Also, there are a variety of fishes in the
shoal. According to Mario, Scarborough Shoal at its deepest is
about fourteen (14) feet, while at its shallowest is about 1 meter.
Inside the shoal, the water current is not strong. From his catch
from the Scarborough Shoal, he was able to buy home appliances,
food, and 3 small wooden boats.
9) Sometime on 20 April 2015, Mario was in Scarborough Shoal
to fish. He was already there for about a week. He saw Chinese
Coast Guard vessels and personnel patrolling the shoal.
10)
The Chinese personnel who were patrolling the
Scarborough Shoal were very strict in that they do not want
Filipino fishermen to be there.
7

11)
Every day, the Chinese Coast Guard boats would patrol
the shoal and use their water cannons to warn the Filipino
fishermen to leave the shoal.
12)
The Chinese Coast Guard patrolling the Scarborough
Shoal consisted of a big vessel and small but fast speed boats.
These speed boats, usually in twos, are the ones that chase away
the Filipino fishermen away from the shoal.
13)
A big Chinese Coast Guard vessel guards the 200-meter
opening of Scarborough Shoal, while two (2) speed boats patrol
around the shoal.
14)
At some point, while Mario was in Scarborough Shoal,
he observed thirty (30) small boats, or bancas, belonging to
Filipino fishermen that converged at the western side of the
Scarborough Shoal.
15)
Mario uses a small wooden boat, or banca, which is
placed on a larger wooden fishing boat en route to the shoal. But
when the larger wooden fishing boat reaches the Scarborough
Shoal, small boats or bancas, just like the one that Mario uses,
are released to fish inside the shoal.
16)
Sometime on 20 April 2015, while fishing alone in his
banca inside the Scaborough Shoal, two speed boats of the
Chinese Coast Guard approached Marios small boat. Each speed
boat has six (6) Chinese personnel in it. The Chinese personnel
were wearing orange colored uniforms.
17)
Some of the Chinese personnel inside the speed boats
were armed with what looked like baby Armalites. Mario was so

frightened by the sight of the Chinese rubber boats. Marios small


boat was the only fishing boat in the vicinity at that time.
18)
One of the speed boats rammed Marios small wooden
boat, which resulted in a hole on Marios boat. He also went
overboard because of the impact of the ramming. His boat also
almost capsized. The Chinese personnel then attached a hook to
Marios boat.

Photo 3. Mario shows how the Chinese Coast Guard personnel attached a hook to his small
boat. (Photo credit: GTA)

19)
Subsequently, one Chinese personnel boarded Marios
small boat, while two Chinese personnel pointed their automatic
firearms at Mario.

Photo 4. Mario shows how the Chinese Coast Guard personnel pointed an automatic rifle at
him. (Photo credit: GTA)

20)
Some of the Chinese personnel grabbed all the fishing
equipment of Mario inside his boat such as hooks, nets, threads,
and a knife. The Chinese personnel even grabbed Marios
eyeglasses. The cost of Marios fishing equipments that the
Chinese Coast Guard seized from Mario on that day was about
Three Thousand Pesos (Php 3,000).
21)
The Chinese personnel were also about to seize Marios
medicine bag, which contains his maintenance medicine for his
hypertension. Mario shouted No!
22)
The Chinese personnel, fortunately, stop seizing Marios
medicine bag.
23)
The Chinese personnel also wanted to seize Marios
engine. But Mario again shouted No! since he desperately
needs his boat engine to leave the shoal.

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24)
All through the time that the Chinese Coast Guard
confronted Mario, their personnel were pointed their automatic
firearms at Mario until they left him.
25)
When the Chinese Coast Guard left Mario, he hurriedly
left Scarborough Shoal due to his great fear. He also did not
anymore have any fishing equipment.
26)
Mario was so frightened by his experience with the
Chinese Coast Guard that day. He prays that the Chinese Coast
Guard leave the Scarborough Shoal so that he and other Filipino
fishermen can properly fish in the shoal without fear. He feels that
the Chinese patrolling the shoal are very angry towards the
Filipinos, and that the Chinese want to monopolize the riches of
the shoal. He adds that he cannot defend himself since he is only
a small person. He adds that with respect to the Scarborough
Shoal, one can feel fear and the frustration that one cannot fish
properly there especially if Chinas rubber boats approach.
27)
Nowadays, he only earns about One Thousand Pesos to
Two Thousand Pesos (Php 1,000 to Php 2,000) from fishing
nearby, which is just enough to buy rice.

C. Peljun Poloso and the ramming of his boat Ruvina by


the Chinese Coast Guard

11

28)
Peljun Poloso, 41, is a resident of Barangay Cato,
Infanta, Pangasinan. He is the captain of a wooden fishing boat
named Ruvina, with eight (8) fishermen crew members.

Photo 5. Peljun Poloso shares about the ramming of his boat, Ruvina, at Scarborough Shoal.
(Photo credit: GTA)

29)
Peljun earns about Five Thousand Pesos and sometimes
up to Seven Thousand Pesos per week as captain of the Ruvina
during the fishing season in Scarborough Shoal from January to
April.
30)
Also, during strong winds and storms, Peljun and his
crew use the Scarborough Shoal as a refuge.
31)
When Peljun and his crew went to Scarborough Shoal
three (3) times, from the period of January to February of 2015,
the Chinese Coast guard patrolling the Scarborough Shoal warned
them and the other Filipino fishing vessels to leave the shoal
using water hoses. Some of the Filipino fishing boats almost sunk.
12

32)
Sometime in March 2015, Peljun and his eight (8)
fishermen crew members went to the Scarborough Shoal. When
Peljun and his crew members arrived at Scarborough Shoal, he
observed that the Chinese coast guard were patrolling and
guarding the shoal. Also, some of the Chinese coast guards were
posing as fishermen and were also patrolling Scarborough Shoal.
33)
As the Ruvina was moving slowly towards Scaborough
Shoal, Peljun sighted a big Chinese fishing vessel the size of which
was much larger than Ruvina.
34)
This big Chinese vessel faced the Ruvina. After some
time, this big Chinese vessel rammed the Ruvina. After the Ruvina
was rammed, Chinese coast guard rubber boats sped toward the
Ruvina. Each rubber boat had ten (10) personnel on board, some
of whom were armed with automatic rifles.
35)
Peljuns Ruvina was rammed three (3) times by the
Chinese vessel. Peljuns Ruvina was subsequently boarded by ten
(10) Chinese coast guard personnel who were armed with short
automatic firearms. The Chinese coast guard personnel who
boarded them commanded Peljun and his crew to leave
Scarborough Shoal saying that No no to fishing Philippines
Scarborough.
36)
The Chinese Coast Guard also turned on their vessels
horn which produced a very loud and irritating sound. Peljun and
his fishermen crew immediately left the Scarborough Shoal for
fear that their wooden fishing vessel might since it was only made
of plywood and wood. Also, subsequent repairs of the Ruvina, due
to the damage it sustained from the ramming by the Chinese
vessel, amounted to about Fifty Thousand Pesos (Php 50,000.00).
13

Photo 6. The Ruvina anchored near the shore of Barangay Cato, Infanta, Pangasinan. (Photo
credit: GTA)

37)
Peljun and his crew left Scarborugh Shoal that night for
fear that something seriously bad might happen again. They
feared that the Chinese personnel might attack them with water
hoses. Previously, the Chinese Coast Guard attacked Peljun and
his crew with water hoses. Peljuns crew members cried.
38)
During the water hose attack, Peljun called a nearby
Filipino fishing vessel, the Renevi, for help thru the radio. Peljun
thought their impending death was near when he saw the Chinese
rubber boats speeding towards them. He told himself to be ready
for death.
39)
After the ramming of the Ruvina last March 2015 by a
Chinese vessel, Peljun and his crew did not anymore go back to
the Scarborough Shoal though the fishing season in the shoal
lasts until April. It is difficult for them to risk their lives because
the Ruvina is only a small fishing boat.
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40)
Also, before, when there were still no Chinese Coast
Guard vessels and fishing boats patrolling the Scarborough Shoal,
Peljun and his crew would go inside the Scarborough Shoal for
shelter from the winds and storms. If the winds were really strong,
Peljun and his crew would go inside the shoal and hide for about
three days and three nights. If the winds calm down, they move
out, because they also monitor thru radio if there are strong
waves or strong winds.
41)
However, because of the presence of the Chinese Coast
Guard patrolling the Scarborough Shoal, Peljun and his crew do
not anymore use the shoal as refuge, even during the wind and
storm season from June to December.

D. Domingo Cabacungan, his crew, and the Chinese


Coast Guard water hose attack
42)
Domingo Cabacungan, 43, is a resident of Barangay
Cato, Infanta, Pangasinan. He is the owner of a wooden fishing
boat he named Queen Laarni, with nine (9) fishermen crew
members. They are:
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)
(f)
(g)
(h)
(i)

Elmer Roldan, 28
Edwin Roldan, 23
Alladin Muoz, 44
Bonifacio Villaram, 32
Rani Espinosa, 36
Francisco Bugawe, 45
Sonny Sibulan, 24
Oliver Bejar, 25
Ruel Beltran, 43

15

43)
For Domingo, Scarborough is important as a place of
refuge during windy periods.

Photo 7. Domingo Cabacungan and the crew of his Queen Laarni. (Photo credit:
GTA)

44)
Sometime on November 2014, at about 9:00 in the
morning, two rubber boats of the Chinese Coast Guard got near
Queen Laarni and touched the outrigger of Queen Laarni. Five
(5) personnel of the Chinese coast guards manned each rubber
boat. Two of these Chinese personnel have firearms, and they
were ready to fire. One was holding a megaphone, another was
the cameraman, and the other manned the control of the rubber
boat. The two armed Chinese personnel were already triggerready.

16

Domingo Cabacungan shows how the Chinese Coast Guard personnel pointed an automatic
rifle at them. (Photo credit GTA)

45)
Due to great fear, Domingo and his fishermen crew
hurriedly left the Scarborough Shoal.
46)
Sometime from January to February of 2015, Queen
Laarni It has been staying at Scarborough Shoal for about three
(3) days, together with fifteen (15) other vessels manned by
Filipino fishermen.
47)
For the past three days rubber boats of Chinas coast
guard and Chinese coast guard personnel would go near Queen
Laarni and the other Filipino fishing vessels. The Chinese coast
guard personnel would instruct Domingo and other fishermen no
fishing.
48)
On the fourth day of its stay in Scarborough Shoal, the
Chinese coast guard rubber boats got near Queen Laarni, and
directed their water hoses at the outrigger of Queen Laarni. At the
second time, the Chinese coast guard rubber boats directed their
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water hoses at the center of Queen Laarni. The China coast guard
personnel were very angry.
49)
During a lull in the water hose attack by the Chinese
coast guard, Domingo and his fishermen, due to their great fear,
slowly maneuvered away from the Scarborough Shoal.
50)
Jowe Legaspi, 45, is a resident of Barangay Cato,
Infanta, Pangasinan. He is a barangay council member of
Barangay Cato, and also a fishing vessel owner, although he does
not travel with his fishing vessel. His fishing vessel has a crew of
ten (10) fishermen. Among them are:
(a)
(b)
(c)

Vicente Paluan, Jr., 38


Ricardo Paluan, 46
Eddie Salvador, 30

51)
The fishing season for Jowes vessel in Scarborough
Shoal usually starts in February and ends in April. The shoal is
also used by Jowes vessel as a refuge during the monsoon
season.
52)
During January, he calls fishermen from as far as Cebu
province in Southern Philippines.
53)
During February, the fishermen from Cebu arrive in
Pangasinan.
54)
His fishing vessel (mother fishing vessel) stays for
about three (3) months in the Scaborough Shoal. Another boat
goes to the mother fishing vessel bringing food and ice, while it
takes the fish harvest from the mother fishing vessel.

18

55)
From Scarborough Shoal, Jowes mother fishing vessel
harvests about one (1) ton per night due to the shoals abundant
fishing resource.
56)
For the 3 month period, his mother fishing vessel earns
a gross amount of about One Million Pesos (Php 1,000,000). These
amount will be distributed among the owner, the captain, and the
fishermen crew. Jowe only loans the capital for the mother fishing
vessel.
57)
His fishermen earn about Ten Thousand Pesos (Php
10,000) per week.
58)
Last 2010-2011, the Chinese became more aggressive
in collecting corals and fishes from Scarborough Shoal. In 2012,
the Chinese did not use rifles yet.
59)
Recently, the Chinese are using automatic rifles and
rubber boats to enforce a ten (10) mile-radius around the
Scarborough Shoal. The Chinese Coast Guard also does not want
the Filipino fishermen to use the shoal for shelter during the
monsoon and storm seasons.
60)
Due to the presence of the Chinese Coast Guard in the
Scarborough Shoal, and their patrol of the shoal, the fishermen of
Barangay Cato, Infanta do not anymore go to the shoal as
frequently as before. The presence of the Chinese personnel in
Scarborough Shoal has severely affected the economic livelihood
of the fishermen of Barangay Cato, as well as deprived them of a
place of shelter during the storm.
61)
The fishermen victims have approached and reported to
various Philippine agencies, such as the Philippine Coast Guard,
19

the harassment they have experienced from Chinese state


personnel. However, due to the very limited resources of these
Philippine agencies, the Filipino fishermen cannot be adequately
and sufficiently assisted.
V. International obligations under International Human
Rights law that have been violated by China due to the
actions of its agents committed against Filipino fishermen
in the Scarborough Shoal (also Panatag Shoal or Bajo
de Masinloc)
A. China and its state agents violated the right to an
adequate standard of living of the Filipino fisherfolks--- which
is provided under Article 11 of the ICESCR and under Article 25 of
the UDHR--- by preventing these Filipino fisherfolks from fishing in
the traditional and marine resource rich lagoon of Scarborough
Shoal
1) The actions of Chinas state agents in forcing the Filipino
fishermen to leave the traditional and marine resource rich fishing
grounds of Scarborough Shoal, and in preventing them from
fishing in the shoal, constitutes a violation of the Filipino
fishermens right to an adequate standard of living for
themselves and their families under Article 11 of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)to
which China is a state party to. Article 11 of the ICESCR provides:
Article 11
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize
the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living
for himself and his family, including adequate food,
clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of
living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps
to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect
20

the essential importance of international co-operation based


on free consent.
2. The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the
fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall
take, individually and through international co-operation, the
measures, including specific programmes, which are needed:
(a) To improve methods of production, conservation and
distribution of food by making full use of technical and
scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the
principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian
systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient
development and utilization of natural resources;
(b) Taking into account the problems of both food-importing
and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable
distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.
(emphasis and underscoring supplied)
2) Further, the actions of Chinas state agents in forcing the
Filipino fishermen to leave the traditional and rich fishing grounds
of Scarborough Shoal and in preventing them from fishing in the
shoal constitutes a violation of the Filipino fishermens right to
an adequate standard of living under Article 25 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 25.
(1)
Everyone has the right to a standard
of living adequate for the health and well-being of
himself and of his family, including food, xxx.
xxx
xxx
xxx
(emphasis
supplied)
3) Chinas state agents have effectively banned Filipino
fisherfolks from fishing in the rich lagoon of Scarborough Shoal,
adversely affecting the livelihood of these Filipino fishermen and
21

their families. Further, China and its state agents have banned
Filipino fishermen from Scarborough Shoal through physical
violent means consisting of water cannons using water mixed with
oil, or by ramming the wooden fishing boats of the Filipino
fishermen, or by pointing their guns at the fishermen.
4) Further, China and its state agents violated the most
fundamental human right of these Filipino fisherfolks, namely
their
right to adequate food and of their families. The
importance of the right to food has been emphasized by the
Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in its General
Comment No. 34:
The human right to adequate food is of crucial
importance for the enjoyment of all rights. It
applies to everyone; thus the reference in Article 11.1
to "himself and his family" does not imply any limitation
upon the applicability of this right to individuals or to
female-headed households. (emphasis supplied)
5) The fundamental nature of the right to adequate food and
its relation to other human rights has been further emphasized by
the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in its
General Comment No. 34:
4. The Committee affirms that the right to
adequate food is indivisibly linked to the inherent
dignity of the human person and is indispensable
for the fulfilment of other human rights
enshrined in the International Bill of Human
Rights. It is also inseparable from social justice,
requiring the adoption of appropriate economic,
environmental and social policies, at both the national
and international levels, oriented to the eradication of
poverty and the fulfilment of all human rights for all.
22

6) Chinas direct actions through its state agents, such as its


Coast Guards and other maritime personnel, against the Filipino
fishermen in Scarborough Shoal is a violation of the fishermens
right to adequate food. As noted by the Committee on
Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in its General Comment No.
34, the right to food can be violated thru direct state action:
19. Violations of the right to food can occur
through the direct action of States or other
entities insufficiently regulated by States. These
include: the formal repeal or suspension of legislation
necessary for the continued enjoyment of the right to
food; denial of access to food to particular individuals or
groups, whether the discrimination is based on
legislation or is pro-active; the prevention of access to
humanitarian food aid in internal conflicts or other
emergency situations; adoption of legislation or policies
which are manifestly incompatible with pre-existing
legal obligations relating to the right to food; and failure
to regulate activities of individuals or groups so as to
prevent them from violating the right to food of others,
or the failure of a State to take into account its
international legal obligations regarding the right to
food when entering into agreements with other States
or with international organizations. (emphasis supplied)
7) Further, Chinas action of preventing the Filipino fishermen
from fishing in the marine-resource rich lagoon of the
Scarborough Shoal is tantamount to a unilateral measure aimed
at cutting the Filipino fishermens access to a major food source.
Again, the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
has remarked in its General Comment No. 34 that State-parties
have the international obligation to respect food sources in other
countries:
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37. States parties should refrain at all times from


food embargoes or similar measures which
endanger conditions for food production and
access to food in other countries. Food should never
be used as an instrument of political and economic
pressure. In this regard, the Committee recalls its
position, stated in its General Comment No. 8, on the
relationship between economic sanctions and respect for
economic, social and cultural rights. (emphasis supplied)
8) The human rights violation of China and its state agents is
made more pronounced by the fact that their violation is
committed in Scarborough Shoal which is within the Philippines
200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone wherein the
Philippines exercises sovereign rights over the living and nonliving resources. And the sovereign rights that the Philippines
exercises over Scarborough Shoal should be, inter alia, for the
benefit of the Filipino fisherfolks.
9) Unfortunately, Chinas violation of Philippine sovereignty and
sovereign rights over the Scarborough Shoal has led to drastic
economic losses for these Filipino fisherfolks.
B. China and its agents violated international customary norms
as well as the right to life of the Filipino fishermen, which is
provided under Article 3 of the UDHR, by preventing them from
seeking refuge in the Scarborough Shoal (also Panatag Shoal) in
times of inclement and bad weather posing serious threats to the
Filipino fishermens lives.
10)
The actions of Chinas state agents in preventing the
Filipino fishermen from seeking refuge in Scarborough Shoal in
times of inclement and bad weather pose serious threats to the
lives of these fishermen, and constitutes a violation of the Filipino
fishermens right to life under Article 3 of the Universal
Declaration on Human Rights:
24

Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of
person.
11)
Further, the actions of Chinas state agents in
preventing the Filipino fishermen from seeking refuge in
Scarborough Shoal in times of inclement and bad weather
constitutes a violation of international customary norms,
specifically the right of ships in distress to seek refuge even in the
port of a coastal state.
12)
In this case, there is more reason for the Filipino
fishermen to seek refuge in Scarborough Shoal as it is within the
200 nm-exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Also, the
shoal has been the traditional place of refuge for these Filipino
fishermen. Scarborough shoal is known as Panatag Shoal to the
fisherfolks of Zambales as Panatag is a Filipino word that literally
means tranquil, showing that Scarborough Shoal has been the
long-time refuge of Filipino fishermen when they experience
storms in the West Philippine Sea.
13)
But more importantly, the essential basis of the
custom of places of refuge has always been the protection of
human life.4
Anthony Morrison, PLACES OF REFUGE FOR SHIPS IN DISTRESS: PROBLEMS
AND METHODS OF RESOLUTION, 12 (2012) citing Derry Devine, Ships in
Distress A Judicial Contribution from the South Atlantic (1996) 20 Marine
Policy 229, 229; A Vaughan Lowe, The Rights of Entry into Maritime Ports in
International Law(1976-1977) 14 San Diego Law Review 597, 610; Sophie
Caggiaguidi-Fahy, The Law of the Sea and Human Rights (2007) 19 Sri
Lanka Journal of International Law 85, 85.
4

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14)
Consequently, the actions of Chinas state agents in
preventing Filipino fishermen from seeking refuge in Scarborough
Shoal (also known as Panatag Shoal) is a violation of these
fishermens fundamental human right- the right to life.
15)
Further, the violation by China and its state agents of
the human rights of these Filipino fishermen is more pronounced
as it occurs in Scarborough Shoal (also known as Panatag Shoal)
which has been the traditional place of refuge of these fishermen
and is within the 200-nm exclusive economic zone of the
Philippines.
VI. Request for urgent action
The Filipino fisherfolks of Pangasinan province, Philippines
fishing and taking refuge in the waters of the Scarborough Shoal,
have been subjected to human rights violations by China and its
state agents, in violation of Chinas international obligations
under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and
Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (UDHR), and international customary norms. The rights of
these Filipino fisherfolks violated by China and its state agents
include, but are not limited, to the following:
(a)

their right to a livelihood under Article 11 of the ICESCR;

(b)

their right to a livelihood under Article 25 of the UDHR;

(c)

their right to life under Article 3 of the UDHR;

(d)
their right, under customary international law, to the places
of refuge for ships in distress in accordance with the right to life.
Accordingly, due to the economic losses that the Filipino
fisherfolks and their families have been suffering and due to the
rainy season in the Philippines, hence, there is a pronounced and
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urgent need for a safe refuge for Filipino fishermen in


Scarborough Shoal and for a restoration of their right to an
important food resource. Hence, we urgently appeal to your
respective Offices to:
urgently intervene and investigate the human
rights violations committed by China and its state
agents against Filipino fisherfolks in Scarborough Shoal;
to express grave concern on the human rights
violations committed by China and its state agents
against Filipino fisherfolks in Scarborough Shoal;
to remind, declare, and direct China and its
state agents to cease and desist from violating the
human rightsincluding the right to livelihood, the right
to adequate food, and the right life-- of the Filipino
fisherfolks over the Scarborough Shoal and to respect
these human rights;
to remind, declare, and direct China and its
state agents to cease and desist from interfering with
the Filipino fisherfolks right to a safe refuge over the
Scarborough Shoal and to respect the Filipino
fisherfolks right to a safe refuge under international
customary law; and
to remind, declare, and direct China to provide
effective remedies and compensation to the Filipino
fisherfolk-victims of the human rights violations
committed against them in Scarborough by China and
its state agents.
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Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any


questions or if we can provide you with any additional information
you may need.

Yours sincerely,
H. Harry L. Roque, Jr.
E: hroque@roquebutuyan.com
T: +632.8873894
Gilbert T. Andres
E:
g.andres@roquebutuyan.com
T. +632.8873894

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