MANILA – Malacañang doubted the claims of Chinese fishermen that Filipinos besieged them during an incident at Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea earlier this month.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on Tuesday said it was impossible for the Filipino fishermen to besiege the Chinese vessel when the latter was the one who hit them on June 9.
“First of all, how can that be?…Eh nabangga nga eh, nabangga at kumalat na nga, iyong mga Filipino fishermen nakakapit na nga doon sa almost submerged boat,” Panelo said.
“So parang malabo iyong…baka imagination (nila),” he added. “You know, I’m a lawyer and I want to know exactly: why did you think that you were being besieged?”
The Chinese embassy on June 14 claimed the Chinese vessel was “berthed” when around seven or eight Filipino fishing boats besieged it.
“For one, there is only one vessel. But I understand they were pala 19 boats, 19 fishermen’s boats. Merong mother vessel, pero merong 19 na nagkalat doon. So, ang tanong ko: iyon ba ang sinasabi ninyo?” Panelo said.
“Number two, kung iyon ang sinasabi ninyo, is that valid enough (to) justify to leave the fisherman in distress? Oh iyon ang susunod na tanong doon,” he added.
Panelo reiterated the government’s condemnation of the Chinese vessel abandoning the Filipino fishermen as it violated Article 98 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Any fishing vessel should rescue “a vessel in distress or passengers needing help, and if does not endanger yourselves.”
“It’s condemnable. Because human decency should make you help someone in distress. Eh kung nakita mo nang nakabangga ka, tapos nandoon sa tubig, ba’t hindi mo naman tutulungan,” Panelo said./PN