Hontiveros hits ‘made in China’ report on Recto Bank incident
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros blasted what she called a “made in China” report indicating that the Filipino fishermen, who were hit and left at sea by a Chinese vessel, shared accountability in the incident.
“Tayo na nga ang binangga, hindi tinulungan at iniwanang halos mamatay sa gitna ng dagat ng isang dayuhang sasakyan na dapat ay wala sa ating teritoryo, tapos tayo pa ang may sala?” Hontiveros said in a statement on Friday.
“This is clearly a case of victim-blaming. Parang may nag-hit-and-run sa nakaparada mong kotse nang madaling araw, tapos ikaw pa ang may kasalanan dahil nagpahinga ka at hindi mo binantayan ang auto mo ng bente kwatrong oras,” the senator further said.
In a television interview on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. disclosed for the first time the result of the investigation into the Recto (Reed) Bank Incident conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
“Our investigation was finished. It was exhaustive. It does not paint our fishermen in the brightest light. It’s not that they’re wrong, [but] why they didn’t have a lookout? Even the enemies of the President say you need a lookout,” Locsin said.
The country’s top diplomat said the PCG’s investigation established that the fishermen did not assign a lookout while the others slept.
The boat’s cook, who happened to be awake at the time, had a small light that might not have been enough to warn the oncoming Chinese vessel.
“I am dismayed that the report assigned blame to our fisherfolk for being hit by a Chinese vessel which shouldn’t have been in our territory in the first place,” Hontiveros said.
“By placing the blame on our fisherfolk, the report ignores the fact that the Chinese hit an anchored and stationary Filipino fishing boat and left 22 of our fishers to fend for themselves at sea. This report seems like it was ‘made in China,'” she added.
The senator further questioned whether the PCG report considered the accounts of the military and the captain of the Vietnamese vessel, which saved the Filipino fishermen.
Both accounts, she said, affirm the story of the Filipino fishermen.
The fishermen initially reported that the Chinese vessel intentionally rammed their boat.
But following a meeting with Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, the Filipino boat’s captain later said he was unsure if the Chinese trawler deliberately hit them or not.
Hontiveros, meanwhile, suggested that a Philippine-based independent investigation composed of maritime experts, former navy officials and lawyers be conducted.
She said that such probe would have a better chance of uncovering the truth and bringing justice to the 22 Filipino fishermen.
“Given the conflicting statements of the Palace and the fact that those statements suspiciously mirror the narrative peddled by China, an informed expert third party would be a step in the right direction,” she said. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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