Don’t ‘soft-pedal’ Mindoro collision, Hontiveros tells gov’t
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday said the government should not make light of the collision between a Philippine fishing boat and a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Occidental Mindoro last June 28.
“Fourteen of our Filipino fishermen are missing… We shouldn’t soft-pedal these incidents when we know this is not the first time that Chinese vessels have put Filipinos in danger,” Hontiveros said in a statement, alluding to the Gem-Ver 1 sinking in June last year.
“Are we going to let another Chinese vessel get away with committing a ‘hit-and-run’ against Filipinos inside our territorial waters?” she added.
On Monday, Malacañang said the incident will be resolved under Philippine laws since it happened within the country’s territorial waters.
“Alam ninyo po, ang rules ng banggaan sa karagatan, parehong-pareho rin po iyan ng rules na ina-apply kapag may banggaan sa kalye. So wala naman pong malaking implikasyon iyan. Banggaan lang po iyan,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said, adding that the collision would not likely have diplomatic implications.
(You know what, the rules of collision in the seas are the same as the rules applied in a collision on the roads. So there is no big implication there. It’s just a collision.)
“Pumanig naman tayo sa sarili nating mga mangingisda (Let’s side with our fishermen),” Hontiveros went on, adding that the government’s priority should be to “fully investigate” the incident and to find the missing fishing boat crew instead of allegedly protecting China’s interests.
The cargo vessel MV Vienna Wood, which was bound for Australia, collided with Philippine fishing boat Liberty 5 Sunday near Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said it will continue to conduct search operations for the 14 missing Filipino crew.
Hontiveros then called on the PCG to “leave no water or land unchecked in their search, rescue, and investigation.”
“I appeal to the government to commit that we will be able to return these Filipino fishermen to their families as soon as possible,” the senator said.
Meanwhile, Hontiveros renewed her call for the government to exact accountability from China for its “continuing abuses, including the building of illegal ‘stations’ in the West Philippine Sea” amid the pandemic.
The destruction that China has wrought on the Philippines’ reef ecosystems has amounted to P200 billion worth of damages, according to the lawmaker.
“Unahin nating protektahan ang kaligtasan ng ating mga mangingisda at ng mga Pilipino kesa sa feelings ng China,” she added.
(Let us prioritize the safety of our fishermen and the Filipino people before the feeling of China).
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