By Macon Araneta
FilAm Star Correspondent

Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima described as “too little, too late” the apology of a Chinese company in behalf of the owner of the vessel that rammed a Filipino fishing boat with 22 people onboard in Recto Bank last June 9.

“Why apologize only now? This is a clear case of too little, too late. If they are really sincere, they could have apologized to our fishermen immediately after the incident,” said De Lima, a human rights and social justice champion.

On August 29, the Philippine Embassy in China tweeted a copy of its August 28 memorandum to Sec. Teodoro Locsin containing its translation of a key portion of the apology letter sent by a Chinese company.

“The ship owner of the Chinese fishing boat involved, through our association, would like to express his sincere apology to the Filipino fishermen,” read an excerpt of the English translation of the letter of apology.

In the letter, the ship owner, identified as Chen Shiqin, claimed that the incident was unintentional but admitted responsibility for the accident.

The owner also requested the Philippines to file a specific appeal for civil compensation based on the actual loss.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the country accepted the apology and welcomed the shipowner’s commitment to pay compensation for actual loss.

“Malacañang was too quick to accept the apology but was silent on the identity of ship owner and the issue of just compensation for our workers,” De Lima said.

The lady Senator from Bicol said she expected Malacañang to take a stronger and firmer stand on the matter as the Filipino fishermen were at the losing end of the incident that happened at around midnight of June 9.

After the ramming incident, the Chinese vessel left the 22 crew members of FB Gem-Vir 1 for dead. The Filipino fishermen were left floating for four hours until a passing Vietnamese vessel rescued them.

In a statement after the incident, De Lima deplored the Chinese fishermen for abandoning the 22 Filipino fishermen after their collision in the Recto Bank.