MANILA – Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Philippines will not hesitate to demand reparations from China if facts were established that the Chinese vessel intentionally rammed a Philippine fishing boat at Reed Bank.
Panelo said Filipinos must be “circumspect” after 22 fishermen almost died from the incident if they were not saved by Vietnamese fishermen.
“While we understand the emotional outcry of our citizens, we call on everyone to be circumspect in this time of confusion,” Panelo said. “There will be a time to demand for reparation once the facts have been established.”
“The government’s priority was to look out for the welfare of the affected 22 fishermen and for the safety of the entire Filipino fishing community and even for the security of all our countrymen,” he added.
Panelo confirmed that Malacañang already received the Philippine Coast Guard’s investigation of the incident but President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to read it.
He added Duterte expressed openness to China’s proposal of a joint probe of the incident but they will wait for China to “clarify the dynamics” of the joint investigation.
“The Philippines and China will probably conduct their investigation separately, and share the respective findings with each other afterwards,” Panelo said. “There is also no need for a neutral party to investigate if the Philippines and China agree on the results.”
The incident happened on June 9 near Recto Bank in the disputed West Philippine Sea. The Chinese embassy in Manila denied the abandonment, saying the Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen “but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats.”
The Recto Bank incident caused the fishermen and the boat owners over P2-million worth of damages. It included about three tons of fish with estimated worth of P1-million, P500,000 in capital, and P700,000 for the fishing boat./PN