Locsin said he had the impression that the results of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) investigation of the ramming incident on June 9 involving a Chinese trawler and a Filipino fishing boat made it appear that the Filipino fishermen were negligent.
Boy Santos
‘Pinoy fishermen not totally blameless on Recto Bank incident’
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - July 4, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s investigation into the Recto Bank incident “does not paint the Filipino fishermen in the brightest light,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said yesterday.

Locsin said he had the impression that the results of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) investigation of the ramming incident on June 9 involving a Chinese trawler and a Filipino fishing boat made it appear that the Filipino fishermen were negligent.

“I got the Coast Guard report immediately. So our investigation was finished. It was exhaustive. I got to tell you it doesn’t paint our fishermen in the brightest light,” Locsin told ANC’s “Headstart.”

The PCG report mentioned the Filipino fishermen were asleep when they were hit by the Chinese trawler.

Only the cook was awake and on deck when the F/B Gemver was hit, Locsin said.

“Even the enemies of the President said you need an assigned lookout in a boat. They didn’t,” he said.

The cook, according to the report, only had a “small” or insufficient light.

“Whether or not that light should have been sufficient to warn the oncoming Chinese vessel, I don’t know,” Locsin remarked.

After hitting the Filipino fishing boat, the Chinese vessel “backed up and went,” abandoning the 22 hapless fishermen in the open sea. They were later rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat after floundering at sea for several hours.

Locsin did not elaborate, saying he is not authorized to reveal the results of the PCG investigation.

The PCG and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) had submitted their report of the incident to President Duterte.

PCG commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino did not reveal the results of their probe, saying “prudence dictates” the Office of the President should announce their findings and recommendations.

“On the part of the PCG, we believe that we have done our mandate and we believe our findings are sufficient,” Hermogino said.

He said the PCG has the mandate to protect our fishermen and the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

However, when it comes to dealing with the Chinese fishermen poaching in our EEZ, Hermogino said the PCG is cautious.

He said the PCG would only warn or advise any foreign fishermen to leave the country’s EEZ.

When asked if he was concerned that the Chinese might retaliate and drive away Filipino fishermen, Hermogino replied, “That is part of our calculated moves in these areas.”

“Of course because of this ongoing discussion in these areas we try to physically avoid conflict, so we always settle in a diplomatic (way). Coast Guard diplomacy is part of our national objective. The overall is to attain settlement in a diplomatic way,” he said.

As much as possible, Hermogino said they are trying to avoid having the situation escalate into an armed conflict.

“Who wants to have an armed conflict when we can settle these issues in a peaceful manner,” he said. – Evelyn Macairan

RECTO BANK INCIDENT
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