DA-BFAR says Filipino fishing boat ‘rammed’; China says they were ‘besieged’

Marje Pelayo   •   June 17, 2019   •   3528

(L-R) Crewmen of the sunken fishing vessel, F/B GEN-VER 1 reunited with their families; wreckage of F/B GEN-VER 1 after getting hit by a Chinese vessel at Recto Bank on June 9, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – The Filipino fishing boat was ‘hit’ and ‘rammed’.

This was emphasized by the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) after numerous versions of the incident in Recto Bank surfaced over the weekend.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol answered questions on his social media account “to correct insinuations that the Filipino fishermen lied” about the incident.

“The captain and crew of the fishing boat stated from the very beginning that they were hit by a Chinese boat. The Chinese initially said it was not certain but later on admitted that the vessel involved in the “ramming” or collision incident was indeed a Chinese boat,” Piñol explained, referring to the question of whether it was indeed a Chinese vessel which hit F/B GEN-VER 1 of the Filipino fishermen.

Piñol also confirmed that the Filipino fishing boat indeed sank, to clear doubts after the vessel was shown sailing back to San Jose in Oriental Mindoro aided by the Philippine Navy.

“The captain and the crew said they had to jump into the water because their boat sank,” the Agriculture Secretary emphasized.

He posted a photo sent by BFAR Director Elizer Salilig which showed a sunken F/B GEN-VER 1 with its bow jutting out of the water.

“Rescuers later refloated the boat and repaired its damaged tailfin,” he added.

The captain of the Filipino boat in an interview said they were rescued by Vietnamese crewmen who were in the vicinity.

“Nagsenyasan kami. Sabi niya: ‘Vietnam, Philippines friends,'” kaya alam kong Vietnam,” Junel Insigne, the captain of the Filipino fishing boat said.

(We used sign language. He said: “Vietnam, Philippines friends,” that’s how I knew they were Vietnamese.)

On Friday, China’s Embassy in Manila admitted that it was a Chinese vessel that hit a Philippine boat at Recto Bank on Sunday (June 9).

However, China claimed that the Chinese vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 was berthed at the vicinity when “suddenly besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats.”

“During evacuation, 42212 failed to shun a Filipino fishing boat, and its steel cable on the lighting grid of larboard bumped into the Filipino pilothouse. The Filipino fishing boat tilted and its stern foundered,” the Embassy said in the statement.

“The Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen, but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats,” the statement read further.

The Embassy said that the Chinese crewmen decided to sail away after confirming that the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued by other Filipino fishing boats.

“The above shows that there is no such thing as “hit-and-run”, the Chinese Embassy said.

It added that China will continue to properly handle the issue with the Philippines “in a serious and responsible manner.”

“The two sides are maintaining close communication through diplomatic channels,” it added.

Amid the issues surrounding the incident, Secretary Piñol believes it is best to conduct an investigation on the matter.

“Whether it was an accidental collision or intentional ramming is an issue that is better resolved through the conduct of a maritime investigation,” he concluded.

Piñol said they already submitted the incident report to President Rodrigo Duterte. — with reports from Rosalie Coz

CamSur, Quezon provinces declare state of calamity in ‘Tisoy’ aftermath

Marje Pelayo   •   December 5, 2019

Villagers walk next to a fallen tree in Naga City, Camarines Sur province, Philippines, 03 December 2019.  EPA-EFE/JONNEL MARIBOJOC

CAMARINES SUR, Philippines – The onslaught of Typhoon Tisoy has left more than P257-million worth of damage in agriculture in the province.

This has prompted the provincial government of Camarines Sur to place the province under a state of calamity.

According to the assessment of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), a total of 9,382 farmers suffered huge losses or considered economically displaced due to the typhoon.

Meanwhile, about 9,259.56 hectares of palay were also damaged.

Gil Dialiano Jr. was among those affected farmers who lament over their loss after the typhoon submerged their entire farmland.

This added to the burden of slumping prices of rice in the market, he said.

“Umani nga pero lugi naman dahil mura ang palay,” he said.

“Inabot ng baha kaya luging lugi talaga,” he added.

Overall, Typhoon Tisoy left more than P257-million worth of damage to the province’s agriculture.

“Ang dahilan po nito, ang damages po ng Camarines Sur na na-incur pagdating sa flooding, pagdating po sa damage houses, pagdating sa agriculture most especially” noted PDRRMC-CamSur Spokesperson Estel Estropia.

Similarly, the provincial government of Quezon also declared a state of calamity following the typhoon.

Such a declaration will allow local governments to utilize their respective calamity funds for the rehabilitation of the affected places.

Based on initial assessment, damage to agriculture in the entire province of Quezon has hit more than a billion pesos worth in the aftermath of the typhoon.

“Ang mga nasa vegetative stage, flowering stage at ang iba naman ay harvesting stage na ay dumapa at naapektuhan,” noted Quezon Province provincial administrator Roberto Gajo.

So far, authorities are still completing the damage assessment in infrastructures in the province.

Quezon province recorded two casualties from the onset of Typhoon Tisoy. – MNP (with inputs from Nel Maribojoc / Japhet Cablaida)

Owner of Chinese vessel apologizes over Reed Bank incident

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 28, 2019

The wreckage of Philippine fishing boat, F/B Gem-Ver after getting hit by a Chinese fishing vessel while anchored in Reed Bank on June 9, 2019.

The owner of the Chinese vessel, through a Chinese ‘Association’, has apologized for the Recto Bank incident last June 9.

In a memorandum posted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Twitter, the Chinese ‘Association’ where the shipowner is a member, sends their sympathies to the Filipino fishermen for the collision between the Chinese and Philippine fishing boats.

The name of the said association was not disclosed by the DFA.

The association also came up with the accident investigation report. They reiterated that the said collision was “an unintentional mistake”. However, they still believe that the Chinese vessel should still take the major responsibility for the “accident”.

“Our association will urge the shipowner of the fishing boat involved to actively coordinate with the Philippine side to expedite the latter’s claim for compensation according to the procedures for insurance claim,” the memorandum states.

On June 9, 22 Filipino fishermen were abandoned after a Chinese vessel “accidentally” rammed their fishing boat in Recto Bank.—AAC

34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

Marje Pelayo   •   July 19, 2019

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

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