Coast Guard did not receive distress call from fishing vessel allegedly rammed by Chinese ship
The Philippine Coast Guard on Sunday said they did not receive any distress call from 22 Filipino fishermen whose boat was allegedly rammed by a Chinese ship last week near Recto Bank located in the West Philippine Sea.
"We just found out about the incident when we coordinated with our Task Force- West Philippine Sea and the report from the fishermen's relatives," said Captain Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson, in a radio interview.
On June 12, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced the collusion between a Filipino and a Chinese fishing vessels near Recto Bank.
Lorenzana said the vessel were 22 fishermen were aboard was hit and abandoned by the Chinese fishing vessel.
With their 10 new vessels, Balilo said they are capable in responding to distress calls.
"Just previous months, we conducted successful rescue operation... but this particular (incident), we did not receive any call," he said.
"Even if we combine all our assets from (Philippine) Navy and Coast Guard, also (Philippine National Police) Maritime and Bureau of Fisheries and Acquatic Resources, it's really hard to guard the sea. We have a very vast coastline and we are doing are best on what resources we have," he said.
To prevent the incident from happening again, Balilo said they are building around 21 radar stations with the help of the Japanese government to monitor perennial fishing grounds.
"We can monitor (the fishermen) even if we cannot contact them. Hopefully this project will turn out well," he said.
"We already started some (stations). We already conducted bidding. ( Coast Guard chief) Admiral (Elson) Hermogino wants this to be finished immediately as we all know this will be the key so that we can better monitor our people," he added.
Balilo said the PCG is hopeful that time will come they can monitor Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
"The PCG continues to pursue improving our service for our people...There will be equipment coming, additional personnel to be recruited. And all of these because our president (Rodrigo) Duterte provides us everything we need and we will use it for the security of our people who works in the sea," he said.
On Saturday, Balilo said the fishing boat arrived in Occidental Mindoro while the 22 distressed fishermen came in the that province last June 14. Ella Dionisio/DMS