Press Release
August 31, 2019

De Lima calls apology over ramming of Filipino vessel as 'too little, too late'

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has 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, 2019.

"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 Thursday, the Philippine Embassy in China tweeted a copy of its August 28, 2019 memorandum to Secretary Teodoro Locsin containing its translation of a key portion of the apology letter sent by a Chinese company.

"The shipowner 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 shipowner, identified as Chen Shiqin, claimed that the incident was unintentional, but admitted having a major 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.

De Lima questioned Malacanang's quick acceptance, saying it should have first identified the ship's owner and the just compensation for our fishermen who could have lost their lives in the incident.

"Malacanang 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," she said.

The lady Senator from Bicol said she expected Malacanang 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.

"Mga kababayan nating mangingisda ang nanganib ang buhay ngunit napakadali lang para sa pamahalaan na tanggapin ang paghingi ng tawad ng Tsina. Sino ba ang mas mahalaga sa kanila?" said De Lima.

It can be recalled that after the ramming, 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.

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