22 Filipino crew in Recto Bank collision on their way home

Robie de Guzman   •   June 14, 2019   •   1941

The 22 Filipino fishermen in the Recto Bank collision held a press briefing aboard a ship en route to Mindoro| Courtesy: Sec. Manny Piñol’s Facebook page

The 22 crew of the Filipino fishing boat that was allegedly hit by a Chinese ship near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea are on their way home to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

They are expected to arrive in their hometown on Saturday, according to the report of UNTV News and Rescue correspondent Sherwin Culubong.

Although none sustained injuries, the crew will undergo medical checkup and debriefing upon their arrival in San Jose.

They will also be asked to give statements on what really happened at the Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) on the night of June 9.

Defense Secretary Lorenzana on June 12 bared that a suspected Chinese fishing vessel hit and sank Filipino boat, F/B GIMVER 1.

READ: DND: Chinese vessel hit, sank PH vessel in Recto Bank

He denounced the actions of the alleged Chinese crew for leaving the scene and abandoning the Filipino crew at sea.

Lorenzana also expressed gratitude to a Vietnamese crew in the area who came to the aid of Filipinos.

The family of one of the Filipino fishermen also thanked the Vietnamese crew for their swift action.

“Malaki po ang pasasalamat namin, kahit hindi natin sila kaano [kalahi] pero tinulungan po sila,” said Maria Fe dela Torre, whose husband owns the boat that collided with the foreign vessel.

They also expressed hope that the Duterte government will seriously investigate the incident and give justice to the Filipino crewmen.

“Ang unang reaksyon namin nagulat, nataranta kami tapos galit kasi bakit di nila tinulungan tao namin? Nakita nila na lumulubog,” said May dela Torre, kin of one of the fishermen, when asked about their initial reaction upon learning about the incident.

“Kasi kung ‘di talaga nila sinasadya or aksidente talaga, kung tao sila, titigilan mo, tutulungan mo. Wala eh. Umalis sila eh. Iba ang nagrescue sa kanila,” she added.

Lorenzana earlier said that China has been informed about the incident and a probe has already been launched.

He also said they are now verifying if the fishing vessel that hit and sank the F/B GIMVER 1 belonged to China.

READ: DND: PH verifying if ship in West PH Sea collision belonged to China

Malacañang earlier called on Beijing to impose proper sanctions against the Chinese crewmen for their “uncivilized” and “outrageous” actions.

READ: PH wants China to sanction ship crew for sinking Filipino fishing boat

The Philippine government also said it is ready to sever its ties with China should it be proven that the Filipino fishing boat was intentionally hit.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin has assured that a diplomatic protest has been filed over the collision incident.

READ: Locsin files diplomatic protest vs China after West PH Sea collision

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture assured to provide assistance to the Filipino fishermen and to their families.

“Puwede kaming tumulong na maipa-repair at temporarily mawalan ng hanapbuhay ‘yung mga mangingisda. Pwede naming tulungan, mayroon kaming mga loaning program for them,” said Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

DFA: Tugboat manned by Filipino crew seized in Persian Gulf

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2019

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that a tugboat manned by 12 Filipino crew was seized in the Persian Gulf due to alleged oil smuggling.

Ambassador to Iran Wilfredo C. Santos said the tugboat was seized on September 7 and that an investigation is on-going.

“He [Santos] said that Coast Guard authorities relayed that an investigation is on going on the alleged oil smuggling of the crew, and once this has been established, the matter will be referred to the local court,” the DFA bulletin reads.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Department is awaiting further updates on the issue including the condition of the 12 seafarers. The department is also prepared to provide assistance when needed.—AAC

All eyes on PH as Duterte arrives in China to discuss sea row

Marje Pelayo   •   August 29, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in China on Wednesday evening (August 28) for a three-day working visit and meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Palace is confident that China will hear the President once he opens up The Hague’s arbitral ruling over the territorial dispute in the West Philippines Sea considering the solid bond that the two countries have already established.

The discussion, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, aims to prevent further escalation of tension and violence at sea due to the decade-long maritime dispute.

“I think China will have an open ear, after all they kept on saying that we’re friends and friends can always talk on anything,” Panelo said.

“Moreover, it’s really about time to talk about it since if the concern is maritime security, and peace in the region, then they really have to talk because this has been a source of some irritants between the two countries as well as other countries,” he added.

Also, included in the agenda of the President’s visit is the proposed joint exploration with China in the WPS under the ’60-40 sharing scheme.’ This means that the Philippines will get 60% of the profit while China will receive the remaining 40%.

“It’s mutually beneficial because both countries are agreeing on a modus vivendi with respect to the exploitation of natural resources,” Panelo said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang has accepted the recent apology of the owner of the Chine vessel to the involved Filipino fishermen in the June 9 maritime incident in Recto Bank.

“We accept the recent apology extended by the owner of the Chinese vessel to our fishermen affected by the incident,” Panelo said.

“We likewise welcome the owner’s humility to take responsibility and acknowledgment that compensation must be provided to cover the actual loss,” he added.

Duterte and Xi will meet on Thursday evening (August 29) and shall witness the signing of certain agreements between the two countries.

Joining President Duterte in China are nine of his Cabinet officials to include:

  1. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
  2. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea
  3. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III
  4. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
  5. Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez
  6. Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena
  7. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi
  8. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon
  9. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

Also included in the President’s delegation are Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Prospero De Vera III and Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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

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