Joint boat-ramming probe virtual surrender of Recto Bank ownership – Lacson
MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Sunday said that a joint Philippines – China investigation of a Chinese vessel’s ramming of a fishing boat manned by Filipinos may be tantamount to the Philippines waiving its right of ownership of Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.
“The 2016 Hague ruling expressly states that Recto Bank is part of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and therefore cannot be claimed by China. Having said that, allowing a joint investigation with China and a third party may be interpreted as a waiver of our right of ownership of Recto Bank,” Lacson said in a statement after President Rodrigo Duterte accepted the offer of the Chinese government for a joint investigation of the incident, together with a third neutral country.
While recognizing the intentions of the government to maintain the country’s bilateral relations with China, Lacson said that “sovereign rights and territorial integrity” are the most important issues that the country must consider.
“While the intention of this administration may be laudable in trying to preserve our country’s bilateral relations with China, presumably for political and economic reasons in order to uplift the living standards of our people, we should also consider the more important issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Lacson said.
“At the very least, that must be clearly addressed during the conduct of the joint investigation,” Lacson added.
The idea of a joint investigation was first introduced by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang last Thursday, June 20.
“To find a proper solution, we suggest a joint investigation at an early date so the two sides can exchange respective initial findings and properly handle the matter through friendly consultations based on mutually recognized investigation results,” Lu said.
The probe seeks to unravel the events in Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea on the night of June 9 when a Chinese vessel reportedly abandoned 22 Filipino fishermen and crew members after their boat, the Fb Gem-Ver 1 was rammed. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)
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