With the objective of addressing the pressing issues arising from China's claims on West Philippine Sea as reported by concerned Zambales fisher folk organizations, a Stakeholders' Convergence Dialogue on Bajo de Masinloc was conducted last July 8, 2015 at the Covered Court, Masinloc Baywalk, South Poblacion, Masinloc, Zambales. This activity was the brainchild of no less than the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar A. Roxas III as the champion of local communities and local governments which aims to provide concrete actions that address actual concerns and negative impacts of issues to the common 'tao'.
Scarborough Shoal also known as Bajo de Masinloc serves as the traditional fishing ground and mid-sea refuge for fishing boats during stormy weather at sea for Filipinos and other nationalities until the Chinese seized it in 2012, where harassment incidents like the firing of water cannon at a group of fishermen from Zambales, Bataan, and Pangasinan were reported.
The activity was attended by a little less than a thousand individuals comprising of fisher folks, barangay, municipal, provincial and congressional leaders and line agencies including DTI, TESDA, BFAR, DSWD, DOLE, AFP and DILG Family.
Gov. Hermogenes E. Ebdane, Jr. called for the unity of Zambaleños and encouraged everyone to do what they can. Cong. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla, expressing her concern on the issue, informed that national government is doing its best to resolve the issue in a peaceful way. On behalf of the mayors, Mayor Desiree Edora discussed the alternative programs of the municipalities in helping the affected fisher folks such as livelihood, scholarship, provision of fishing gears and equipment.
Selected Fisher folk leaders shared their experiences and voiced their plight, requesting assistance from the government. Among the issues raised were: the imminent threat to the lives of fisher folks, fishing activities in the area became limited within the municipal waters only, and fish catch was reduced; thus, greatly affecting the income of fisher folks. In response, directors of line agencies presented their respective programs and encourage all concerned to avail of these programs as an alternate means of generating income.
RD Dijan assured the fisher folks that said issues and concerns will be relayed to the Secretary for appropriate action. Further, she guaranteed everyone that a series of follow through activities will be undertaken to benefit all concerned fisher folks.