EDITORIAL- Another collision
EDITORIAL- Another collision
(The Philippine Star) - July 3, 2020 - 12:00am

Rescue teams have said there are no signs of life in the area where a fishing vessel sank after it collided with a Hong Kong-registered ship on the night of June 27 in waters off Mamburao in Occidental Mindoro.

After days of search operations underwater and from the air, the Philippine Coast Guard said it had found no trace of the 14 Filipinos aboard the Liberty 5, which has sunk to the bottom of the sea. The bulk carrier Vienna Wood had sent a distress call three hours after its collision with the Liberty 5. A statement from the Vienna Woods manager said its crew “initiated a search operation immediately after the incident and found no survivors.”

The Vienna Woods has been impounded as the Philippine government conducts an investigation of what has been initially described as an accident. Malacañang has assured the public that the Philippines has “exclusive” jurisdiction over the investigation of the incident because it occurred within Philippine territorial waters.

The assurance had to be given because even if the tragedy might truly be an accident, it inevitably resurrected memories of another sea collision a year ago. There is still no closure for the 22 Filipinos whose fishing vessel, the F/B Gem-Ver 1, sank after being struck by a Chinese ship near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea on the night of June 9, 2019.

The 22 fishermen were more fortunate than the 14 on the Liberty 5: while the Chinese ship Yuemaobinyu abandoned the sinking Gem-Ver, a Vietnamese vessel arrived and its crew rescued the Filipinos. Defense officials said it appeared that Gem-Ver had been deliberately rammed near Recto or Reed Bank, over which the Philippines has been awarded sovereign rights by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. President Duterte, on the other hand, described it as a “maritime incident.”

In the latest collision, it looks like the 14 Filipinos on the Liberty 5 are lost forever. The government must see to it that the whole truth about the incident will come out.

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