Protect PH fishermen, bishops urge government
MANILA, Philippines — Catholic bishops on Tuesday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte over his remarks on the Recto Bank incident that endangered the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo challenged the government to stand up for the Filipino fishermen after a Chinese vessel rammed and sunk their fishing boat at Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea last June 9.
“The government has a duty to protect its citizens and its territory. It should not allow itself to be bullied and let its people suffer,” Pabillo said in a statement.
In a speech at the 121st Philippine Navy anniversary, the President described the incident as a “little maritime incident” and that politicians were just making the situation worse.
However, Pabillo said that the incident should not be treated lightly.
“The government should send the message that this is a serious matter that should be resolved and not be treated only as a mere incident,” he added.
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon echoed the statement of Pabillo by saying that the President’s words showed “bias” for China.
“Duterte is selective in dispensing justice,” Bastes said. “This is a sign that his judgment cannot be relied upon on serious moral and social issues.”
Opposition senators also expressed dismay over the response of the government in the issue.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of Liberal Party, asked where would the people of the country turn to if the government turned its back from its people?
Jailed Sen. Leila de Lima slammed the comments of the government, describing it as administration’s “odious yet subtle effort” to cover up for China.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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