Palace: Same ‘tune’ of Duterte, China on Recto Bank issue just a coincidence
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said Wednesday that the similarity between the statements of President Rodrigo Duterte and a Chinese official calling Recto Bank incident as “maritime accident” was just a coincidence.
Breaking his week-long silence concerning the incident where a Chinese vessel reportedly rammed a Philippine fishing boat, Duterte on Monday dismissed the incident as a “little maritime accident” involving two boats.
His comment seems to be similar to the June 13 statement of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, who said the matter was an “ordinary maritime traffic incident.” The Chinese official likewise, said it is irresponsible for the Philippines to politicize the incident without verification.
But in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte’s remark does not lean to the statement of the Chinese official.
“Not really echoed. Nagkataon na similar ‘yung kanilang initial findings, hindi ibig sabihin na meron silang usapan na ganoon,” he said.
(Not really echoed. Even if by chance their initial findings were similar, it does not mean they had a prior discussion to have the same statement.)
Panelo said that before judging the President, the public must remember that the chief executive investigates first before he speaks, especially since the Philippine government is still awaiting “facts” related to the incident.
He said the President is not necessarily trying to avoid offending China by not airing strong condemnation, and that he was only refraining from issuing a policy statement “because the facts are not yet in.”
“Kailangan marinig din natin. They have the right to be heard also,” Panelo said, referring to the Chinese crew that abandoned the 22 fishermen floating at sea near the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea for hours on June 9.
He also noted that Duterte is a “responsible leader” who does not want to make the incident an international crisis.
He denied that the “calibrated” reaction of the President was a prejudice to the testimony of the fishermen, explaining that it was only Duterte’s “initial look at the circumstances.”
“Those are initial conclusions based on initial findings. As I said, when the facts change, you change your position,” the Palace spokesman said.
Panelo said the Chinese government has assured the Duterte administration that they will get to the bottom of the incident and will impose sanctions to the vessel’s crew if found to have violated international laws. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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