Press Release
July 5, 2019

Hontiveros laments "Made in China" report blaming PH fishers, not Chinese vessel, for Recto bank hit-and-run incident

"Tayo na nga ang binangga, hindi tinulungan at iniwanang halos mamatay sa gitna ng dagat ng isang dayuhang sasakyan na dapat ay wala sa ating teritoryo, tapos tayo pa ang may sala?"

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros posed this question as she expressed her opposition to a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) report claiming that the Filipino fishermen hit and left at sea by a Chinese vessel were responsible for the incident.

"This is clearly a case of victim-blaming. Parang may nag-hit-and-run sa nakaparada mong kotse nang madaling araw, tapos ikaw pa ang may kasalanan dahil nagpahinga ka at hindi mo binantayan ang auto mo ng bente kwatrong oras," Hontiveros said.

"Made in China"

"I am dismayed that the report assigned blame to our fisherfolk for being hit by a Chinese vessel which shouldn't have been in our territory in the first place. By placing the blame on our fisherfolk, the report ignores the fact that the Chinese hit an anchored and stationary Filipino fishing boat and left 22 of our fishers to fend for themselves at sea. This report seems like it was 'made in China,'" Hontiveros added.

In a media interview, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. cited a Philippine Coast Guard report allegedly blaming the Filipino crew of F/B Gem-Ver 1 for not posting a lookout and not giving a signal to the incoming Chinese vessel, leading to the collision. Citing the PCG report, Locsin said almost everyone on the Filipino boat was sleeping and only the cook was on deck.

Hontiveros wondered if the report considered the earlier accounts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the crew of the Vietnamese boat that saved the crew of the Gem-Ver 1. She said that both accounts affirm the story of our fisherfolk. The Senator also cited the strong statement issued by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana about the incident. "Why was a Chinese fishing vessel roaming around our territory to begin with? More importantly, why did the Chinese crew run away and abandon our fisherfolk after the collision, in violation of international maritime laws?," she said.

Hontiveros reiterated her support to Locsin's appeal before the London-based International Maritime Organization (IMO) to investigate the Recto Bank hit-and-run incident. The Senator also suggested a Philippine-based independent investigation composed of maritime experts, ex-navy officials and lawyers to investigate the incident, saying that such a probe would have a better chance of uncovering the truth and bringing justice to the aggrieved Filipino fisherfolk.

"Given the conflicting statements of the Palace and the fact that those statements suspiciously mirror the narrative peddled by China, an informed expert third party would be a step in the right direction," she said.

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