Press Release
June 22, 2019

Hontiveros nixes proposed joint probe of Recto Bank incident as "lutong makaw," bound to favor China

"Any joint probe with an evasive Chinese government will be, quite literally, lutong makaw."

This was how Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros described the proposed China-Philippines joint investigation into the Recto Bank hit-and-run incident, saying that such a probe is bound to favor only China as it continues to evade any accountability for its citizens' actions in the West Philippine Sea.

"If China only intends to whitewash the incident and is unwilling to bring her erring citizens to justice for their acts, then any joint probe will be an exercise in futility," she said.

Hontiveros said that China's initial actions and pronouncements on the issue "do not inspire confidence that it will be a cooperative partner in seeking justice for our aggrieved fisherfolk."

She said that China's previous statements on the issue had been "nothing but flat denials" of any liability of the crew of Chinese vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212, which rammed and abandoned the Filipino fishermen onboard Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver 1. China also claimed that their vessel was "besieged by Filipino boats," which has been debunked by matching accounts of the incident of both the crew of the F/B Gem-Ver 1 and the Vietnamese nationals who rescued them.

"With statements like those, can we really expect them to be our partner in searching for truth and accountability in this incident? Can we really expect that the investigation will not be a farce to the detriment of our people and sovereignty?" she said.

Hontiveros said that she supports Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.'s decision to reject the proposed joint probe. This even as President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to a joint investigation.

"I support the call of Secretary Locsin for China and the Philippines to conduct their respective investigations. I also welcome his effort to raise this issue before the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the United Nations (UN). President Duterte should listen to his own DFA Secretary. The Philippines should not be a willing party to any joint investigation whose goal is to deny that an injustice has been committed against our people within our territorial waters," Hontiveros said.

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