Duterte did not downplay Recto Bank ramming incident — Yasay
MANILA, Philippines – When President Rodrigo Duterte described the ramming of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese vessel at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea as a “little maritime incident,” it was not meant to downplay it, Duterte’s former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said.
“To describe it as a little maritime incident is not to downplay it. I mean the fact of the matter is that here, a small Filipino fishing boat that was involved versus a much bigger Chinese fishing vessel, allegedly, this is not a collision between two cruise ships, not between two oil tankers,” Yasay said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
Yasay, who served in the Duterte Cabinet from June 2016 up to March 2017, added that the President is serious in looking after the welfare of the 22 Filipino fishermen involved in the incident.
“So when the President describes it as a little maritime accident, I don’t think one should be nitpicking with his choice of words and say he has downplayed the incident,” he explained.
“The choice of words is not to imply that he is belittling the fishermen, in fact he is very serious,” he claimed.
The President earlier said he would not go to war over a “little maritime accident.”
“What happened in the collision is a maritime incident. Do not believe the dumb politicians who want to send the Philippine Navy. You do not send gray ships there. That is only a collision of ships,” Duterte said.
Duterte’s remarks on the ramming of the Philippine fishing boat later drew flak from his critics.
Meanwhile, Yasay said there is not enough evidence to show that the ramming incident at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea was an act of war by China on the Philippines. He also advised that the incident be contained so as not to involve other issues.
“Do we have the evidence very clearly that this was an act of war? We do not have the truth […]We should proceed on the basis of the evidence that we have on this matter. At the same time, we can contain the incident and not drag other issues,” he said. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)
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