Fishermen in the Philippines whose livelihoods have been hit by the South China Sea dispute hope for a tough new president to sort out their troubles. Paul Chapman reports.
Times are tough in the Philippines fishing town of Masinloc. Its inhabitants say their livelihoods have been hit by China's disputed claims over most of the South China Sea. Chinese coastguard vessels are blocking the entrance to Scarborough Shoal which the Philippines also claims. With elections fast approaching in the Philippines, some are hoping a new president will bring decisive action. Former boat captain Biany Mula, now driving a motorcycle cab for a living, is one of them. (SOUNDBITE)(Filipino) SHIP'S CAPTAIN BIANY MULA SAYING: "We want a tougher president who will make China leave the Philippines area. That area is not their property." Others, like fish seller Joy Tupaz, favour a more conciliatory approach to the problem. (SOUNDBITE)(filipino) JOY TUPAZ, FISH VENDOR, SAYING: "There's been talk about war but we're afraid of fighting. I hope that wouldn't happen. Let us just fish, let everyone be allowed to fish in Scarborough." The Philippines has taken the dispute to an international arbitration court whose ruling China says it won't recognise. Military analyst, Professor Jose Custodio, doesn't hold out much hope the fortunes of Masinloc's fishing community will change any time soon. (SOUNDBITE)(English) MILITARY ANALYST, PROFESSOR JOSE CUSTODIO, SAYING: "The only was for China to behave is if there's an international co-ordinated effort to show to it that unilateral aggressive acts don't pay." More than 54 million Filipinos are eligible to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections on May 9th. Here in Masinloc, while some are hopeful the South China Sea dispute can be resolved, nobody's betting on when.