PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - June 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Filipino fishers were left at sea, after their vessel had been rammed by what they reported was a Chinese vessel. On Philippine Independence Day at that!

Would any sensitive human being leave anyone in distress out at sea in the dark night? Even if the ramming was accidental or intentional, were not the lives of the fishers of top importance?

Well, the fishing vessel that rammed the Filipino vessel turned and rushed off into the night, leaving our people in danger out in the sea!

Initially, angry Du30 military, DFA, and Malacañang official supporters criticized the Chinese, demanded an official apology and investigation, or diplomatic ties could be compromised!

Their strong anti-China stance, however, changed. They cautiously asked - was it an accident? Was the ramming vessel really Chinese? They also suggested further investigation beyond the initial reports received.

There are two important issues related to that ramming incident needing serious reflection and action, especially from the Du30 administration. First, there is the issue of our Filipino fishers left unaided in the sea by the ramming vessel. That inhuman act of not stopping to save the distressed fishers can never be acceptable and has to be condemned, with the guilty party to be punished under international law.

What if the kind Vietnamese fishers did not come on time to save our fishers? Thank God for the Vietnamese who came to rescue our Filipino fishers.

Next, was it a Chinese vessel that rammed the Filipino vessel, by accident or by intent?

Citing initial investigation, Western Command (WesCom) chief Vice Admiral Rene Medina reported that the Filipino fishers were asleep when the ramming incident happened.

Medina shared that “the Chinese fishing vessel stopped for a while, then two bancas from the fishing boat tried to approach the vessel and complain of the incident,” but “the Chinese vessel flashed its light at the boat, maneuvered in reverse and sped off, abandoning the sinking Filipino fishing boat and endangering the lives of the fishermen in the open sea.” Medina said that the Filipino fishers reported that “the vessel that hit them was from China. Ang source namin ay ang mga fishermen mismo at sa tagal na nilang nangingisda sa area at palagi nila nakikita ang ibang mangingisda ng China, Vietnam kaya kilala na nila kung sino ang bumabangga sa kanila.”

Medina “also believed that what happened was no accident, based on the status of the F/B Gem-vir na naka-anchor before the incident at sa ginawa ng Chinese fishing vessel after the incident, parang sinadya talaga. Sa lawak-lawak ng dagat at bakit doon mismo dumadaan ang Chinese fishing vessel.”

The Philippine Coast Guard has floated the possibility that the ramming vessel may have been Vietnamese, not Chinese. Other military officials also backtracked, sought further investigation, when the Chinese protested that “it was irresponsible for the Philippines to politicize the incident without verification,” according to Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang,

Even as Geng Shuang said that China was still investigating, China had also prematurely labeled the Thursday incident as “an ordinary maritime traffic accident.”

Does the backtracking of Philippine military and officials about the details of the unfortunate June 12 incident show the weakness of billion-budgeted military intelligence? Or is the backtracking due to the loud Chinese protest or by the pressure of pro-Chinese Philippine officials?

Since this June 12 ramming incident, there has been a conspicuous deafening silence from Du30. Could not a Philippine president have raised hell when distressed Filipino fishers were left, unaided, at sea?

Why the silence?

Isn’t Du30 pro-Filipino? What happened to his promise to jetski to defend Philippine territory?

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