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Sea collision in Recto Bank may mar PH-China relations

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte was “outraged” by the incident in Recto Bank on June 9, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, when a Chinese vessel hit and sank a Filipino fishing boat and just abandoned 22 Filipino fishermen in the middle of the sea.

Panelo in a statement said that such action by Chinese crew members is not what humanity dictates, calling it “uncivilized” and “outrageous”.

Panelo said the incident may lead to a diplomatic rift between the Philippines and China if the Chinese government will not act on sanctioning the offending crewmen.

“Ano’ng (what) step? We will cut our diplomatic relations,” Panelo warned.

“Iyan ang unang ginagawa pag may aggressive acts. First may diplomatic protests ka. Kung di ka kuntento sa paliwanag nila at nakita nating sinadya, ibang usapan na iyon. Our responses will always be calibrated depende sa degree. But definitely, we will not allow ourselves to be assaulted, to be bullied,” he explained.

(That’s the first thing we do with aggressive acts. First, you file a diplomatic protest. If you’re not contented with their explanation and if the act is intentional, that’s a different thing. Our responses will always be calibrated depending on degree. But definitely, we will not allow ourselves to be assaulted, to be bullied.)

Panelo insists that China must act on the matter by investigating and bringing to justice all of its nationals involved in the incident.

“We call the Chinese government to probe the incident and to impose punitive actions against those at fault,” he stressed.

President Duterte in April emphasized that he may allow Chinese vessel near Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea but he will not let it pass if their stay is already causing harm to the Filipinos in the area.

“Kapag iyan ang ginalaw ninyo, ibang istorya na iyan. Sabihan ko na ‘yang mga sundalo ko, ‘prepare for suicide missions,’” President Duterte said on April 4, 2019.

(If you hurt [my people] that’s a different story. I will tell my soldiers to prepare for suicide missions.)- with reports from Rosalie Coz

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Duterte to Recto 22: ‘I’m sorry, but that’s how it is’

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Courtesy : Presidential Photo

President Rodrigo Duterte apologized to the Recto 22 after he reiterated that the abandonment of the 22 fishermen was just a “maritime incident”.

During the premiere of the movie “Kontradiksyon,” Duterte told reporters that the incident did not result in any confrontation.

“Well, I’m sorry, but that’s how it is,” he said. “They know that that area is claimed by both. For China, it happened within their jurisdiction. For us [it happened] within our jurisdiction. We have two conflicting claims of ownership.”

READ: Filipino boat captain laments Duterte’s remark on West PH Sea allision incident

The Filipino boat captain previously expressed disappointment over Duterte’s remarks when he said the allision was only a “maritime incident”.

A Filipino vessel was allegedly hit by a Chinese vessel on June 9. The Filipino fishermen were abandoned at sea and were saved by Vietnamese fishermen after a few hours.

Duterte clarified that he is not belittling the situation. However, he said that it would not justify sending military troops to the area.

“It’s a maritime incident. ‘Little’ in the sense that it did not result in any confrontation. This not to belittle anything. There was damage but luckily nobody died,” he said. “That is not a reason to go to any military exercise there. If you do that, that’s war.”—AAC


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Lacson: Duterte broke his silence and left us heartbroken

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

(L-R) Senator Panfilo Lacson and President Rodrigo Duterte

Senator Panfilo Lacson has expressed dismay over the remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte about the Chinese vessel ramming a Filipino fishing boat in Reed Bank last June 9.

During his speech on Monday (June 17), Duterte said the sinking of the Filipino fishing boat was only a ‘maritime incident’ and it is not necessary to send the Philippine Navy to the area.

“Dalawang bangka lang iyan (Those are just two boats). Now you go there and create a tension. I said, hindi ako g*go na presidente na papayag (I am not a foolish president who will allow it). If we have to die, we have to die in the correct way, and to die in dignity,” said Duterte.

Lacson is also dismayed by the limited action of the president regarding the issue.

“It is disappointing to say the least, not much by his insulting remark but his self-limiting course of action which disregards an effective ‘weapon’ in our arsenal. It is found in the Mutual Defense Treaty,” his statement adds.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said there is no need to confuse the public if the ramming by the Chinese vessel is intentional or not.

He said there is already a violation of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) when the captain of the Chinese vessel did not assist the Filipino fishermen.

“This violates China’s obligation under the UNCLOS to rescue those in distress at sea. This is the issue that should be addressed and the basis of China’s liability under international law and the UNCLOS,” he said.

Duterte also said that he will not be issuing an official statement while the incident is still to be investigated.—AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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I call on our beloved president to help us —captain of sunken PH boat

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019

Cerillo Escuterio recalled they already caught three tons of fish before a Chinese vessel rammed into their fishing vessel, F/B GemVir 1, on June 9.

The 22-man crew was then left floating in the open sea for three hours before a Vietnamese vessel came to rescue.

Escuterio has been a fisherman for seven years. He said the amount of fish caught in the region is what made him decide to become a fisherman.

The fishes were not only abundant but also beautiful, he added.

But after their fishing vessel was destroyed, Escuterio and his companions were left with no choice but to think of other ways to earn for their family.

F/B GemVir 1’s captain Junel Insigne insisted the Chinese vessel intentionally rammed into their boat.

He remembered how their ship sank. He also remembered how the Chinese vessel turned off their lights before they sail off.

“Pagbangga biglang lumubog na iyong bangka namin. Paglubog umikot iyong Chinese fishing vessel, pagikot inilawan kami. Kita namin mga tao sa lantsa na Chinese fishing vessel. Pagilaw nila nakita kami lubog, umatras [sila] nang todo bago sabay patay uli [ng] ilaw takbo palayo (They hit us and our boat sank. When it did sink, the Chinese fishing vessel turned around and shed a light on us. We saw the people there. After lighting on us, they sailed backwards and turned off their lights),” he said.

Escuterio also denied claims that it was an accident because the engine wasn’t even on.

“Mali ang kanilang statement na sinasabi nilang aksidente. Mali po iyon talagang sinadya nila na banggain kami kasi kami ay naka-anchor. Steady bangka namin ang engine namin patay hindi kami naandar (Their statement that it was an accident is wrong. That is wrong, they intentionally hit us because we had our anchor down. Our boat was steady because our engine was off),” Escuterio said.

Both fishermen called on the president to help them, not only for their financial needs but also to hold those involved accountable.

“Ang panawagan ko lang sa ating mahal na pangulo gusto ko lang mapaayos iyang bangka na iyan kasi diyan lang kami kumukuha ng aming ikabubuhay (I call on our beloved president, I just want our boat fixed because that’s where we get out livelihood),” Insigne said.

READ: Business groups vow aid for Filipino fishers hit by Chinese ship

Meanwhile, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Industry and the Philippine Silk Road International Chamber of Commerce gave P1 million financial aid to the 22 Filipino fishermen.

The P500,000 will be used to repair their boat while the remaining P500,000 will be for their livelihood assistance. —AAC (with reports from Sherwin Culubong)

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