Duterte ‘prejudiced’ outcome of Recto Bank probe – ex-DFA chief
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has already “prejudiced” the outcome of the investigation into the Recto (Reed) Bank incident when he called it “a little maritime accident.”
The incident left 22 Filipino fishermen abandoned at sea for hours after a Chinese vessel rammed their fishing boat.
Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said this when asked if he thinks the Philippine government has done enough to protest the ramming incident in the West Philippine Sea.
“It’s difficult to say whether the Philippine government has done enough in terms of probing this in an independent objective way because there’s a sense that the President has prejudiced the outcome by saying that this is a little maritime incident,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN Channel’s “Headstart” on Thursday.
“He (Duterte) has, in my view, prejudiced an objective outcome, this is already dictated what he thinks it is, and you don’t expect the institutions that will later investigate this to divert from what he has said,” he added.
During his time as foreign affairs secretary, Del Rosario led the filing of an international arbitration case against China in 2013 challenging the legal basis for Beijing’s sweeping claims over nearly the entire South China Sea.
Del Rosario’s statement comes after the President said the Gem-Ver 1, the Filipino fishing boat that sank at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, was not rammed by a Chinese trawler but was sideswiped.
“As a matter of fact, halos kami [Cabinet officials] ngayon have agreed na sideswiped [ang Filipino boat]. Tapsingan ba. Hindi talaga ‘yung binuggo. Kay kung binuggo, nasa ilalim na ‘yun,” Duterte said in a speech at the 122nd anniversary of the Presidential Security Group at Malacañang Park Wednesday night.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier filed a diplomatic protest shortly after the incident was reported by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana last June 12.
On Monday night, the President said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) have completed their own joint probe into the Chinese vessel’s ramming and sinking of the Philippine fishing boat.
According to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, the report was already submitted to Malacañang last June 20. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)
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