By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent
Malacañang supported the filing of raps against the Chinese crew involved in the Recto Bank ramming incident, saying the Chinese could be liable for criminal offenses after abandoning 22 Filipino fishermen adrift at sea, “which imperiled their lives.”
Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa said charges should be filed against the Chinese crewmen behind the ramming and sinking of a Philippine fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea.
He said this was based on the result of an investigation by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
Findings of the “Joint PCG-Marina Marine Safety showed that during the ramming incident involving FBCA Gem-ver,” the Chinese vessel failed to extend assistance to the 22 distressed Filipino fishermen who were abandoned in open sea.
“If we let it go, (the Chinese) will keep doing it. They will have the mentality that they can bully Filipinos (because) anyway, (Filipinos) won’t file formal complaints,” warned the neophyte senator.
Meanwhile, former Ambassador Alberto Encomienda defended Senate President Vicente Sotto’s position on whether the Philippines has the exclusive right to explore the marine resources in the disputed West Philippine Sea, which is part of the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Encomienda, the former envoy to Malaysia and Singapore, lent some credence to Sotto’s statement that it is contestable to invoke exclusivity in marine resource use in the area because it is technically impossible to determine their sources.
Asked when the Philippines file a case against the Chinese crew, Panelo said the country will compare its findings with the results of the investigation of the Chinese government before releasing a joint statement.
If the Philippines and China would have conflicting results, Panelo said, “We’ll talk about how can we resolve the difference.”
Malacañang stressed there was no contradiction between the PCG-Marina findings that the Recto Bank incident was “a very serious marine casualty” and President Duterte’s remark that it’s just “a little maritime incident.”
“It is serious in the sense that when you leave our countrymen after that accident, then that’s a serious matter,” Panelo said.
“But you cannot blow (it up) into an international crisis. You know why? Because that was a Chinese vessel; that’s not (the) China Republic.”
Panelo made the remark after the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority deemed the June 9 Recto Bank incident a “very serious marine casualty.”
In its 14-page report dated June 20, PCG-Marina said the Chinese vessel involved in the Recto Bank incident failed to undertake measures to avoid hitting the Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver.
The Chinese ship also abandoned the Filipino crew despite “direct knowledge of their distress situation,” according to the report.
“By maneuvering back and stopping approximately 50 meters away from FB Gem-Ver with her fishing lights on, the (Chinese) vessel (had) to have direct knowledge of the distress situation,” the document read.
It said this was in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.
The report did not state whether the Chinese ship that sank the boat was a private vessel or used by China’s maritime militia.
“What we should do is resort to diplomacy, go to ICJ (International Court of Justice), go to International Maritime Organization,” said Gordon in an interview over radio DZBB.
Gordon said one option is to ask help from the US because of the existing mutual defense pact.
However, the Senator said, “Ang Amerikano, kahit kinukuha na noong araw, tahimik sila hanggang binomba na sila sa Pearl Harbor, doon sila pumasok,” said Gordon.
The Senator was referring to the December 1941 attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, causing the US to join the war.
“China is sort of (a) bully and arrogant. They don’t mind the game of intimidation,” he said.
“If you will be afraid, you will backtrack. We all know na kung ang isa ay magpapakita ng kasigaan, at sumunod ka, talo ka. We have to make (it in) our own world,” he also said.
“Tumutulong din sa atin ang Israel, Japan, Korea. Pag-ibayuhin yun para talagang magkaroon tayo ng kakayahan,” he said.