In this June 14, 2019 photo, crewmen of F/B Gem-Vir 1 board the Philippine Navy's BRP Tausug after being rescued.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos
Philippines has 'opening' to raise Recto Bank collision at ASEAN summit
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - June 18, 2019 - 1:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has a chance to raise the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea during the upcoming ASEAN Summit in Thailand.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West said the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea, will be on the agenda of the summit this week.

"During the exchange of views on regional developments, there is an opening to raise these issues," Mahilum-West said in a Malacañang briefing Tuesday.

The DFA official noted that the Philippines is a coordinator of the ASEAN-China dialogue partnership until 2021, where Beijing and ASEAN member states are negotiating the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Mahilum-West said incidents such as the collision of a Filipino and Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea would be among the agenda during the negotiations.

"Incidents like what happened emphasize the importance of having a code of conduct so that we could avoid, we could prevent these incidents from happening in the future," Mahilum-West said.

The DFA official, however, did not categorically confirm if the Philippines would raise the issue before the summit as investigations are ongoing.

"For one thing, there is this investigation that is ongoing that up to the present discloses certain facts that we did not know before," she said.

The Philippine government is also waiting for the response of China on the "strong" diplomatic protest that it had lodged against Beijing.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier tweeted that he had fired off a diplomatic protest after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana released a statement condemning the actions of the Chinese vessel in abandoning the 22 Filipino fishermen as their boat was sinking.

Noting that major factors are pending, Mahilum-West said it would be premature to confirm if the Philippines would raise the Recto Bank incident at the ASEAN Summit.

President Rodrigo Duterte, along with other Cabinet members, will be attending the 34th ASEAN Summit in Thailand from June 22 to 23.

ASEAN RECTO BANK RODRIGO DUTERTE SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 8, 2019 - 1:04pm

Updates in the aftermath of the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a suspected Chinese trawler.

July 8, 2019 - 1:04pm

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo says there is no contradiction in the Philippine Coast Guard's report that the June 9 Recto Bank incident is a “very serious maritime casualty” and President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier statement that the incident was a "little maritime incident."

"It's serious in the sense that when you leave our countrymen there then that's a serious matter," Panelo explains, adding that even if it is a serious matter "you cannot blow that and make it into an international crisis."

He adds the Philippines will "definitely" seek accountability from China over the allision that sank F/B Gem-Ver 1.

He says China will be the one to decide on how it should deal with or make accountable the crew of the Chinese vessel that left 22 Filipino fishermen after the allision.

June 27, 2019 - 3:10pm

Vice President Leni Robredo says Senate President Tito Sotto's remark on allowing Chinese to fish within the Philippine EEZ as "the fish could be coming from China" is a bit insensitive, especially to Filipino fishermen whose rights are violated.

"Tingin ko, medyo insensitive siya dahil mayroong mga [mangingisda] tayong na-violate iyong kanilang mga karapatan. Para sa akin, at this point, kailangan nating siguruhin na maramdaman noong mga mangingisda na hindi sila iniwan. Maramdaman nila na tayong lahat nagtutulong-tulong para makahanap sila ng hustisya sa sinapit nila," she says.

June 26, 2019 - 8:30am

Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio in a statement says the Philippine government cannot allow Chinese fishermen to fish within the country's exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea as it violates the Constitution.

"The Constitution mandates, 'The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its exclusive economic zonem and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens,'" he says.

"This means that the Philippine Government cannot allow Chinese fishermen to fish in our EEZ in the West Philippine Sea. This also means that the 'use and enjoyment' of the fish in our EEZ is reserved exclusively to Filipinos."

 

June 25, 2019 - 8:34pm

More than 200 students, faculty and alumni of the University of the Philippines Visayas – College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in Miagao, Iloilo have signed a petition condemning the allision at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea "and the subsequent downplaying of the incident by the Duterte administration."

"We demand full accountability not only on the crew of the Chinese vessel for endangering the lives of the 22 Filipino fisherfolk, but also on the Duterte administration for betraying the trust of our fisherfolk, the constituents whom this government should be protecting and serving," they say in an online petition shared on social media.

The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest with China over the incident but President Rodrigo Duterte and his officials have played the allision down, calling it a "little maritime incident."

Duterte on Monday night said he is sorry that the crew of the F/B Gem-Ver who were left behind by the Chinese vessel after the allision feel "belittled." He explained that China also considers Recto Bank with its jurisdiction despite it being within the Philippines EEZ. 

"Seeing how the government treats the fisheries sector and the fisherfolk, we are inclined to believe that this administration puts the interest of the Chinese first rather than making the Filipino fishers and WPS a priority," the petitioners say.

"Our fisherfolk are among the poorest and most vulnerable sector in the society. Now, more than ever, is the time to stand in solidarity with them and condemn this blatant turncoatism by the Duterte administration. Let us translate our anger into concrete collective action. Hold Duterte and China accountable," they say.

June 24, 2019 - 9:39pm

President Rodrigo Duterte reiterates that the sinking and abaondonment of the crew of F/B Gem-Ver in Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea is no reason to send the military to the area, an option that critics of the government's response to the incident are not calling for.

"I'm sorry. But that's how it is. It's a maritime incident. Little in the sense that there was no confrontation, there was no bloody violence," Duterte tells reporters Monday.

He says the incident, and the anger over it, is no reason "to go to any military exercise there."

The president says that would lead to war.

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