In raising the issue, Lorenzana also took the opportunity to express the Philippines’ gratitude to the Vietnamese fishermen for rescuing the 22 Filipino crewmen who were then at risk of drowning after the F/B Gemver was rammed by the Chinese vessel and sank, according to Department of National Defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong.
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Lorenzana raises Recto Bank sinking with Asean defense chiefs
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - July 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana brought up the June 9 sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel near the West Philippine Sea’s Recto Bank before the 13th Association of Southeast Asian Defense Ministerial Meeting (ADMM) that convened in Thailand on Friday.

In raising the issue, Lorenzana also took the opportunity to express the Philippines’ gratitude to the Vietnamese fishermen for rescuing the 22 Filipino crewmen who were then at risk of drowning after the F/B Gemver was rammed by the Chinese vessel and sank, according to Department of National Defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong.

At the onset, it was Lorenzana himself who denounced the Chinese action in abandoning the Filipino fishermen to the elements, which he described as unbefitting of any sailor or mariner.

Lorenzana, however, softened his stance on the issue to align himself with Malacañang pronouncements that described the mishap as a simple sea accident.

To avoid a similar maritime mishap from happening again, Lorenzana proceeded to push for the adoption of ADMM Guidelines for Maritime Interaction as he also reaffirmed the country’s continuing support to new initiatives in strengthening cooperation to address prevailing traditional and non-traditional security challenges affecting the region.

Andolong said the meeting resulted in the adoption of documents that will guide and further enhance the ADMM process and engagement, namely the Concept Papers on the Guidelines for Assessment of ADMM initiatives, the Role of ASEAN Defense Establishments in Supporting Border Management, Establishment of ASEAN Military Medicine Conference, Expansion of the ASEAN Direct Communications Infrastructures, Guidelines for Maritime International, and the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the ASEAN Our Eyes.

“The meeting likewise welcomed the adoption of the Philippine-initiated Template TOR for Hosting Activities under the framework of the ADMM-wide Education and Training Exchange,” Andolong said.

The ASEAN defense chiefs discussed possible approaches of defense establishments in the region in responding to the security implications of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

While in Thailand, Lorenzana also engaged his Thai counterpart, Prawit Wongsuwon, in a bilateral dialogue as well as in a trilateral meeting with his Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts where discussions all centered on matters of interest, particularly on cooperation and security.

Convened annually, the ADMM serves as the highest platform for cooperation among the defense establishments of ASEAN member states.

“(The ADMM) aims to promote mutual trust and confidence, thereby forestering a greater understanding or regional defense and security challenges and contributing to regional peace and stability,” Andolong said.

‘Name fishermen in China vessel’

If China is really a friend of the Philippines, it should at least give the names of the fishermen in the China vessel that rammed the Gemver near Recto Bank last June 9 and left its crew floundering in the water, Sen. Richard Gordon said yesterday.

“If China lives in a world order of civility and out of friendship, they will take responsibility by giving the names and letting the Philippine government investigate them,” Gordon said.

“If China is our friend, you must give the names of your fishermen, the vessel. I can assure you of a fair trial. My problem is, we’ll do our own investigation, but to whom will we file charges? John Doe? John Go? John Sy?” the senator said in Filipino.

Gordon added that it is not enough that China compensated the Filipino fishermen and replace their damaged boat. He said the Filipino fishermen also seek justice.

Gordon cited as an example the May 9, 2013 incident where a Philippine Coast Guard patrol boat fired on a Taiwanese vessel leading to the death of one of the latter’s crew members.

A probe by the National Bureau of Investigation showed there were signs that the Coast Guard may have violated its rules of engagement and eight crewmen were found to have fired at the Taiwanese vessel. The NBI recommended the filing of homicide charges against the Coast Guard personnel involved in the shooting. – With Paolo Romero, Ding Cervantes

DELFIN LORENZANA RECTO BANK INCIDENT SOUTHEAST ASIAN DEFENSE MINISTERIAL MEETING
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