A memorandum from a Chinese association titled “Chinese Apology on the Recto Bank Collision Incident” released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday confirmed that the Chinese fishing boat involved in the accident on the evening of June 9 is registered in Guangdong province and its owner is a member of the association.
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Chinese fishing vessel owner apologizes for Recto Bank incident
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - August 29, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The owner of the Chinese ship that hit and sank a Filipino fishing boat near Recto Bank finally apologized to the 22 Filipino fishermen for the collision and “unintentional” mistake.

A memorandum from a Chinese association titled “Chinese Apology on the Recto Bank Collision Incident” released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday confirmed that the Chinese fishing boat involved in the accident on the evening of June 9 is registered in Guangdong province and its owner is a member of the association.

“It was fortunate that there were no casualties. I feel deep regret that this accident had to happen and I would like to express my deep sympathy to the Filipino fishermen,” the memorandum read.

“The shipowner of the Chinese fishing boat involved, through our association, would like to express his sincere apology to the Filipino fishermen,” it read.

The memorandum also mentioned that the association asked for information from the shipowner, ship captain and crew of the fishing boat involved and investigated the accident.

“We believe that, although this accident was an unintentional mistake of the Chinese fishermen, the Chinese fishing boat should, however, take the major responsibility in the accident,” it read.

The association said it would urge the shipowner of the fishing boat involved to coordinate with the Philippines for the fishermen’s compensation.

The crew of the Chinese vessel supposedly abandoned the 22 Filipino crewmembers of Filipino fishing boat F/B Gem-Ver 1 near Recto Bank, an area within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The incident prompted the DFA to file a diplomatic protest.

Philippines accepts apology

The Philippines has accepted the apology, Malacañang said yesterday.

“We accept the recent apology extended by the owner of the Chinese vessel to our fishermen affected by the incident. We likewise welcome the owner’s humility to take responsibility and acknowledgment that compensation must be provided to cover the actual loss,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

The apology was issued on the same day President Duterte left for his fifth visit to China. Officials previously said maritime incidents in the South China Sea might be discussed during the bilateral meeting between Duterte and Xi today, the highlight of the presidential trip.

“President Duterte is also expected to raise during his bilateral talk with President Xi the ruling held by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague which disapproved the expansive claims of China over the disputed waters in relation to the exclusive economic zone of the country in the West Philippine Sea,” Panelo said.

The spokesman added that Duterte would also discuss with Xi the ways and means on how to go about the conduct and framework of a possible joint exploration between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea.

Also to be discussed is the need to fast-track the crafting of a binding code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

“The President believes that the absence of the COC that is to be observed by affected countries has caused numerous conflicts in the subject waters that could have been prevented by a document that will regulate their actions. A good example of such conflict would be the maritime incident which transpired a few months ago in Recto Bank,” Panelo said.

Aside from Panelo, other members of the President’s official delegation are Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Commission on Higher Education Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III and Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

Accurate account

Sen. Francis Tolentino said Beijing’s apology proved the Philippines’ account of the incident was accurate even as he pressed the government to seek damages for the fishermen.

“The apology coming from the Chinese side, while two months late, shows the validity of the Philippine version of the incident,” Tolentino said in a statement.

“We should pursue our civil claim for damages to give justice to our fishermen as well as seek other routes to protect them in the future hand in hand with our sovereign rights,” he said. – With Alexis Romero, Paolo Romero, Edu Punay, Evelyn Macairan

F/B GEM-VER 1 RECTO BANK INCIDENT
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