Robredo meets with 22 fishermen in Recto Bank incident
Robie de Guzman • June 21, 2019 • 1436
Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday conducted a closed-door meeting with the Filipino crew of the boat which was hit and sank by a Chinese vessel near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea last June 9.
Robredo arrived at the San Jose town in Occidental Mindoro around 10 a.m. to speak with the 22 crewmembers of F/B Gem-Ver 1 who were left floating at sea after the ramming incident but were later rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.
The meeting was held at the residence of one of the fishermen and owner of the boat.
The Vice President’s visit comes after boat captain Junel Insigne retracted his previous statement that the Chinese boat intentionally hit their boat. He changed tune after a closed-door meeting with Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol on Wednesday.
Some Makabayan congressmen alleged that the boat captain was intimidated and pressured to change his statement, which Piñol denied.
The Agriculture chief said he only based on the account of the boat’s cook, Richard Blaza, who was allegedly the only one awake when the incident occurred.
Robredo earlier said she wants the Chinese crew to face charges for hitting and abandoning the Filipino fishers at sea.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea requires member-states to mandate ships flying their flag to rescue persons distressed at sea. Beijing and Manila are signatories of the said policy.
A diplomatic protest has already been filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs over the incident.
Investigations are also underway on the boat ramming incident. (with details from Sherwin Culubong)
The Malacañang insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte will not set aside the West Philippine Sea arbitral ruling for the joint oil exploration with China.
This was after former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert Del Rosario slammed the president’s statement.
“[Because the] exclusive economic zone is part of the arbitral ruling which we will ignore to come up with an economic activity,” President Duterte was quoted saying during the oath-taking of the Malacanang Press Corps on September 10.
Vice President Leni Robredo expressed dismay over what she referred to as ‘irresponsible’ statement of the chief executive.
However, the palace said President Duterte is not setting aside the decision of the Hague Arbitral Tribunal, as well as the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the negotiation between the Philippines and China will remain.
“The setting aside doesn’t mean that we will abandon it. what the president means, as we have repeatedly said, and as he has said too, the arbitral ruling is still subject to talks between two countries, negotiation is ongoing peacefully, meanwhile we focus on other concerns may mutually benefit the two countries,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – The Tropical Depression outside the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) has slightly intensified, according to the state weather service PAGASA.
As of PAGASA’s 4:00 AM bulletin, the trough of the tropical depression is now affecting Southern Luzon and Visayas.
On Thursday (September 12), cloudy skies with scattered to widespread rainshowers and thunderstorms will be experienced specifically in CALABARZON, Bicol Region, MIMAROPA, Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Aurora, Quirino, Isabela, and Cagayan.
According to the latest data from PAGASA, the center of the tropical depression was observed at 1,495 km East of Visayas with maximum sustained winds of 55 km/h and gustiness of up to 70 km/hour while moving east-northeastward at a speed of 15km/hour.
The weather system is forecast to enter PAR within 48 hrs and will be named “Marilyn”.
This weather disturbance is less likely to make landfall in the country.
Meanwhile, partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers will prevail over Metro Manila and the rest of the country due to localized thunderstorms.
Geng also raised concerns that there are some non-regional countries who made unwelcome remarks and deliberately highlighted tensions in disregard of the efforts by regional countries to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.
“China opposes that,” he said. “We urge those countries to look at the South China Sea issue objectively, stop making negative comments, and create an enabling environment for regional countries to properly handle maritime disputes and advance cooperation.”
The Foreign Ministry Spokesperson has assured that “the situation in the South China Sea remains stable and is improving.”
He said that China and the countries from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have made progress in the code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.
“We, the regional countries, have the will, wisdom and capability to properly resolve the South China Sea issue and achieve long-term stability, development and prosperity in this region,” he said. — AAC
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