After 2 years, talks on compensation for Gem-Ver incident get underway
This file photo shows the fishermen who were abandoned at sea after their fishing boat was sunk by a Chinese vessel.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos

After 2 years, talks on compensation for Gem-Ver incident get underway

(Philstar.com) - June 8, 2021 - 11:16am

MANILA, Philippines — Officials of the Philippines and of China have met to discuss compensation over the ramming of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese fishing vessel near the Recto Bank in 2019.

Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay said Tuesday that officials met with representatives of China’s Bureau of Fisheries on Monday, June 7. "The discussions were mainly on the matter of compensation and moral damages," he added.

“The representatives of the owners of the Chinese fishing vessel undertook to formally inform the owner and crew members of the F/B Gem-Ver1 of their counter-proposal,” Sugay also said.

No other details were given.  "It may be better to wait for the formal counter-proposal and to discuss the matter directly with the owner and the crew members of the F/B Gem-Ver1," the DOJ official also said.

Philippine panel raises failure to assist Gem-Ver crew

Sugay said the Philippine panel, composed of the DOJ, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources officials, reiterated the claim of the owner and crew of Gem-Ver.

“The Philippine panel invited attention to the fact that the crew members of the Chinese fishing vessel, in violation of relevant international conventions and customary international maritime law, failed to extend assistance to persons who were clearly in distress at sea,” he added.

China's Bureau of Fisheries agreed to coordinate with the DOJ to ensure that the owner and crew of the sunken boat will be fairly compensated.

Prosecutors in September 2020 set an amount of P12 million or nearly $250,000 as payment to the 22 fishermen of the GemVer. It would cover repair costs, lost income and civil and moral damages.

The fishermen were left at sea by the Chinese vessel that rammed their boat on the night of June 9, 2019. It was only through a passing Vietnamese vessel that they were rescued. 

The incident drew public outrage in the Philippines despite President Rodrigo Duterte playing it down as a "little maritime accident".

Two years on, the Philippines continues to file diplomatic protests over the presence of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Christian Deiparine

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 24, 2021 - 3:54pm

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

May 24, 2021 - 3:54pm

The Philippines and China discussed the issue of compensation for the owner and crew of F/B Gem-Ver 1 — a fishing boat that was damaged and then sank in 2019 after an allision with a Chinese fishing vessel in the Recto Bank area of the West Philippine Sea — last week, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says.

"The [Department of Justice] will lead a small group (DOJ, [Foreign Affairs], [Agriculture/Bureau of Fisheries and Aquartic Resources) to put a close to this festering issue," he says, adding they will meet with their Chinese counterparts on June 2 and 7.

 "As far as the Filipino fishermen are concerned, it is important that they recover fully their expenses for the boat repair and the income they lost while the boat was under repair," he also says.

September 24, 2019 - 9:43am

A philanthropist from Shanghai has turned over a commercial fishing vessel to replace F/B Gem-Ver 1, which was damaged and sank in the the Recto Bank allision in June, columnist and special envoy Ramon Tulfo says in a press release. 

"The fishing boat, christened as F/B Pengyou, replaced the F/B Gem-Ver 1 that was sunk at Recto Bank in the South China Sea," the Office of the Special Envoy for Public Diplomacy to China says. Recto Bank is part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

Tulfo says Xue Chengbuao, a tycoon from Shanghai, turned over the the boat in a ceremony in San Jose, Mindoro Occidental on Sunday.

"F/B Pengyou is 17 meters long and 1.6 meters wide. It weighs 10.6 tons and has a Fuso engine with 160 hp," Tulfo's office also says.

"Pengyou" is Mandarin Chinese for friend.

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."


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