The owner of the Chinese vessel that collided with a Filipino fishing boat near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea in June had apologized to the 22 Filipino fishermen left floating at sea as their boat sank.
The STAR, file
Charges over Recto Bank allision should come from fishermen — Palace
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - August 30, 2019 - 3:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Filipino fishermen involved in an allision near Recto Bank, and not the Philippine government, should pursue a complaint against the offending Chinese vessel, Malacañang said Friday.

The owner of the Chinese ship that hit a Filipino fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea more than two months ago had apologized to the affected Filipino fishermen.

Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sto. Romana said the apology of the Chinese side does not absolve them of responsibility.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, on the other hand, said the Philippine government will not pursue charges against the Chinese vessel.

"The fishermen should be the one pursuing that because they are the ones who are victims of that," Panelo said in a televised press briefing in Beijing.

The Malacañang spokesman clarified that the government will support the Filipino fishermen if they file charges against the Chinese ship but will not initiate the filing..

According to Panelo, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed appreciation of the Chinese side's apology in his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The two leaders concluded a bilateral meeting Thursday, in which six agreements were signed between Manila and Beijing.

Duterte supposedly expressed appreciation over the fact that the Chinese side was open to compensate the Filipino fishermen, whose boat sank after the collision near Recto Bank on June 9.

Panelo: I meant apology appreciated

Panelo also contradicted his own statement that the Philippines accepted the apology of the Chinese shipowner through the Guangdong Fishery Mutual Insurance Association.

In a statement released Wednesday, Panelo said, "We accept the apology extended by the owner of the Chinese vessel to our fishermen affected by the incident."

Panelo clarified that what he meant was that the Philippine government appreciates the fact that the Chinese side apologized.

"I asked the president (Duterte) if he was okay (with the apology) and he said 'yes,'" Panelo said in Filipino.

It was Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. who pointed out that he merely "noted" the apology sent by the Chinese fishery group to the Philippine Embassy in the Beijing, which the DFA released.

"I did not accept it. I am not a fisherman. Panelo merely expressed satisfaction with the Chinese apology for the incident and the offer of compensation and nothing more," Locsin said on Twitter.

Panelo added that Locsin might not have been aware that Duterte was "okay" with the apology when he posted the tweet.

"His Twitter (post) appears that he is saying that 'I am not a fisherman, why will I accept the apology?' I think that is the context," Panelo said.

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