MANILA – Philippines and China were eyeing for a joint investigation in the Reed Bank incident where a Chinese vessel allegedly rammed the Philippine fishing boat earlier this month.
Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary Menardo Guevarra said they will not do anything until a joint marine inquiry comes up between the two countries with findings on the June 9 incident.
“During the Cabinet cluster meeting, I proposed that it be a joint inquiry with the Chinese side,” Guevarra said. “Kung may disagreement as to the factual findings, a referral to a neutral third party may be considered.”
“The DOJ will be awaiting the findings of the marine inquiry,” he added. “I would prefer that para isahan na lang. Baka iba findings nila, iba ang findings natin. Magulo pa. So why don’t they just conduct it jointly?”
Guevarra said the Department of Foreign Affairs will be the agency to bring to the Chinese government the proposal for a joint inquiry.
China on Thursday showed its willingness on the proposed joint investigation on the matter as soon as possible to achieve “mutually-recognized results.”
“To find a proper solution, we suggest a joint investigation at an early date so the two sides can exchange respective initial findings and properly handle the matter through friendly consultations based on mutually-recognized investigation results,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang in Beijing.
However, Kang maintained it was an “accidental collision” and said Filipino and Chinese fishermen “have long been friendly to each other, rendering mutual assistance to the best of their capabilities in times of need.”
Filipino fishermen were left helpless at Reed Bank off the western Philippine province of Palawan after their fishing boat was hit by a Chinese vessel which the Chinese insisted was a maritime accident./PN