Duterte wants China to assure rights, safety of PH fishermen in WPS
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wanted China to assure the rights and safety of Filipinos trawling in the West Philippine Sea following the June 9 sinking of a Filipino boat in Recto Bank.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte mentioned this during the 39th Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Monday night.
“The President wanted China’s assurance that the rights and safety of our fisherfolks are guaranteed,” Panelo said in a statement.
Duterte asked China’s assurance after a Chinese trawler rammed a Filipino boat and left 22 Filipino fishermen drifting at sea last month.
Panelo said the President also ordered the Cabinet to raise the Recto Bank incident during the Philippines bilateral meeting with China.
“[T]he Cabinet discussed the Recto Bank incident where PRRD told the Cabinet that the incident be discussed during the bilateral meetings with China,” he said.
Manila and Beijing has a Bilateral Consultative Mechanism (BCM)l, a venue where Manila and Beijing discussed specific issues and development in the South China Sea.
Panelo earlier said the Chinese government was “seriously” and “thoroughly” probing the incident. But China has yet to release the result of their investigation.
Duterte had said earlier he wanted a third party investigation on the sinking of the Filipino boat but China has refused the involvement of a third party.
Duterte has received a sharp rebuke for allegedly siding with China on the incident, even saying that the Philippines could not ban Chinese fishermen in trawling in Manila’s exclusive economic zone.
He has downplayed the incident as just a “little maritime accident,” saying the Filipino boat was not sunk but merely “sideswiped,” in what he said was a normal occurrence in the open sea. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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