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Lorenzana: China envoy to be ‘invited’ over Recto Bank incident

/ 11:30 PM June 17, 2019
Zhao Jianhua - Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte greets Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua (left) during a Chinese-Filipino business convention at the Manila Hotel on Feb. 19, 2018. (Photo from Malacañang)

SANGLEY POINT, Philippines — Malacañang will invite the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, in connection with the Recto Bank (Reed Bank) incident, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday.

He said this was discussed during the Cabinet cluster meeting earlier in the day.

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“Yun ang lumabas kanina, ini-invite siya para naman kausap siya kung ano yung final version nila, kasi tayo ngayon yung nakukuha natin is unofficial pa rin. Magkakaroon ng official investigation,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the 121st anniversary celebration of the Philippine Navy here.

[That’s the result of the meeting today. We are inviting him to talk about their version of their incident. Because right now what we’re getting is unofficial. There will be an official investigation.]

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Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles earlier denied an Inquirer report that the Chinese ambassador would be summoned by the Palace.

Last week, a Chinese vessel rammed and sunk an anchored Filipino fishing boat near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea. The 22 Filipino fishermen were later picked up by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.

Lorenzana had earlier condemned this incident and called for diplomatic action.

But a few days after his statement, there now appears to some doubt from the government on whether the ramming was intentional or not.

“Nagkakaroon tayo ng konting doubt kung ano ba talaga ang nangyari dun eh. Eh unang natanggap ko nun kaya ako nagpalabas is binangga. Nabangga nga talaga, pero was it intentional or not, meron nang doubt ngayon eh kung intentional o hindi,” he said.

[We are having some doubt about what really happened. The first report I got was it was rammed. There was really a collision, but whether it was intentional or not, there’s some doubt now whether it’s intentional or not.]

He also said the ramming might not be state-sponsored amid speculations that the vessel could be part of the Chinese maritime militia.

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“Let us put the incident into its proper perspective. Hindi naman ito sponsored by a state na gagawin nila yun eh. Kasi ang claim ng initially, ang unang lumabas sa kanila is aksidente,” he said.

[Let us put the incident into its proper perspective. This is not sponsored by the state. They won’t do that. Their initially claim was that it was an accident.]

While a formal investigation is underway, Lorenzana said the livelihood of the fishermen would be addressed by government agencies.

“Ngayon ang gagawin natin we will take care of the fishermen kasi hindi sila makapag fishing e. Sira yung barko nila, tapos may pamilya yan. So yung ibang agencies ng gobyerno will go there and provide assistance,” he said.

[What we’ll do now is take care of the fishermen because they can’t go back fishing yet. Their boat is damaged and they have families. So other agencies of the government will go there and provide assistance.]

(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)

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TAGS: Delfin Lorenzana, Recto Bank incident, Reed Bank incident, Zhao Jianhua
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