Duterte wants Recto Bank incident jointly probed by Philippines, China and neutral country
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Saturday said President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the offer of the Chinese government to have a joint probe of the alleged “hit-and-run” of a Chinese vessel on a Philippine fishing boat at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.
However, the Palace added that aside from the Philippines and China, the President wants the participation of a neutral third country in the conduct of the probe.
“The Palace wishes to inform our people that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte welcomes and accepts the offer of the Chinese Government to conduct a joint investigation to determine what really transpired in Recto Bank and find a satisfactory closure to this episode,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“To this end, the President wants the creation of a joint investigating committee that shall be composed of three groups of highly qualified and competent individuals, with Philippines and China having one representative each, and a third member coming from a neutral country,” he added.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang on Thursday first proposed to have a joint marine inquiry as to really happened in the early hours of June 9.
But Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin rejected the idea, and even claimed that Malacañang even supported his decision.
“Having separate investigations by the two countries may raise speculation and accusation of bias,” Panelo explained. “Such circumstance will put any finding by any side open to question and place the entire issue in a confused state.”
“On the other hand, a joint and impartial investigation will not only promote the expedient resolution of the issue, it will also be in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which places paramount emphasis on the use of peaceful means to resolve international disputes,” Panelo added.
The Presidential Spokesperson also noted: “To be clear, we are by no means relinquishing any inch of our sovereign rights, nor compromising the rights of our 22 fishermen. We are demanding justice for our countrymen, and we are using all legal means toward that end.” (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)
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