Bayan fears Duterte will believe China more than PCG, Marina in Recto Bank ramming probe
MANILA, Philippines—A left-wing activist group described as suspicious the Duterte administration’s move to bide its time in filing charges against the crew and officers of a Chinese trawler that rammed a Filipino fishing boat in Philippine territory, raising fear it would lead to another sellout to China.
The group said the decision to wait for China’s own investigation spoke volumes about whose side the administration was on following results of an investigation by Philippine authorities that found the Chinese trawler, its crew and officers liable for ramming the Filipino boat, throwing its crew overboard and abandoning the men at sea.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said on Monday (July 8) that Duterte should instead charge the Chinese officers and crew of the trawler based on findings made by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
The findings, according to Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, were significant and warranted the filing of criminal and civil cases against the Chinese crewmen and officers for sinking the Filipino boat that threw fishermen from Mindoro province overboard. The Chinese trawler left the Mindoro fishermen fighting for their lives at sea.
“It is suspicious and strange that Malacanang wants to wait for the results of China’s investigation before filing any case,” said Reyes. “Our exercise of sovereignty and jurisdiction should not be dependent on what China has to say,” he said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that the government would not rush to file charges against the Chinese seafarers and wait for findings of Chinese investigators.
This was despite the findings of a joint report from PCG and Marina released last Saturday. In the report, blame was pinned on the Chinese vessel for failing to avoid colliding with the Filipino boat Gem-Ver 1, which was anchored and stationary, inside Philippine exclusive economic zone at Recto Bank last June 9.
The PCG and Marina also said that the Chinese vessel intentionally left the 22 fishermen at sea. The fishermen were eventually rescued by a Taiwanese ship.
Reyes said he feared Malacanang would heed the results of the Chinese investigation rather than believe results of the investigation conducted by Philippine authorities.
“What if their findings are in stark contrast to ours? Will we tailor our complaint so as not to contradict China’s findings?” he said.
The fishermen whose lives were put on the line as a result of the ramming “deserve justice and the Philippine government should ensure that they receive this,” said Reyes.
“It is appalling how the Duterte government seems to be more concerned with not offending China rather than achieving justice for the Filipino fisherfolk,” he said.
He said Bayan would bring to the streets these issues during rallies on July 12, which coincides with the date of the Philippines’ victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration against China’s claim of ownership of the entire South China Sea through its mythical nine-dash line.
“We join all patriotic Filipinos in commemorating the July 12 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague,” said Reyes.
“The ruling invalidated the nine-dash line claim of China and affirmed our exclusive economic zone under the Unclos,” he said referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.
“This legal victory should not be set aside or undermined by saying it cannot be enforced. That is a total misappreciation of the significance of the ruling and is a betrayal.of national interest,” he added. (Editor: Tony Bergonia)
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