Press Release
June 13, 2019


*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on a Chinese crew sinking a Pinoy fishing vessel, abandoning fishers in the West Philippine Sea

I strongly condemn the crew of a Chinese ship who abandoned our fisherfolk in the middle of the sea after their vessel allegedly collided with and sank ours near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea last June 9.

The abandonment of our fisherfolk to the mercy of the sea was grossly despicable and inhumane. It was also treacherous and intended to harm if proven that the reported collision was intentional.

I fully support the call of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for our government to conduct a formal investigation on the matter and for concrete diplomatic steps to be taken.

I call on President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately order the recall of our ambassador and all our consuls in China. It stands to reason that if President Duterte can order the recall of our envoy and consuls in Canada over a dispute on garbage, he can do the same to defend and secure the lives of our fisherfolk and the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The order should remain in full effect until the Chinese government has done the following:

1. Identify the Chinese vessel (civilian or military?) that collided with and sank our fishing vessel, and explain its presence in the West Philippine Sea.

2. Identify and punish the captain and entire crew of the Chinese vessel who abandoned our distressed fisherfolk to the sea.

3. Commit that such incidents will not happen again in the future.

I also call on the President to implement a foreign policy that fully complies with and upholds our international obligations, particularly the arbitral tribunal ruling on the West Philippine Sea. The sinking of our ship mirrors the state of Philippine sovereignty. President Duterte's continued subservience to China can no longer hold the country's sinking sovereignty afloat, which plunges deeper into a dark, bottomless abyss everyday that he fails to enforce a foreign policy that truly represents our people's patriotic aspirations and interests. This cannot stand anymore.

Lastly, I would like to thank the crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel who rescued our fisherfolk. Their selflessness and heroism demonstrated that the best ways to effectively respond to foreign aggressors and secure peace and stability in the region are through solidarity, unity and multilateralism.

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