Palace says they can only 'invite', not 'summon' Chinese envoy
Malacanang on Tuesday clarified that the government cannot summon Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua as it does ''not have jurisdiction'' over him.
“First of all we cannot summon the ambassador. We don’t have jurisdiction over the ambassador. We are not the government of China to summon an official of China. The word is ‘invite.’ But we feel?or the President, I think, is not inclined to do that because the ambassador made a statement about seriously and cautiously studying the facts,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing.
Panelo said as the investigation is ongoing, there will be no reason that will prompt the government to call Zhao to ask for his explanation on the matter.
“The ambassador is the one who will go to us. Number two, if you invite him and ask to explain, why will he explain when there is a conduct of investigation? We are prejudging them,” he said.
“Maybe when they give their findings to us and we see that there is something wrong then we will invite them,” he said.
Panelo said it is best to wait for the result of ongoing investigation of the Philippines and China.
“As the president said, they have the right to be heard. Let them investigate first and then tell us what is their investigation,” said Panelo.
Asked if the Philippines will only listen to the version of the Chinese government after there is “doubt” on the statements of the fishermen, he said they want to know the truth first.
“We are not doubting (them). What we are saying is the new circumstances are factors that will raise doubts. Because even the crew with him (boat captain) gave a different point (of view). That is the very reason why the President says, “Oh wait, let’s wait for the investigation first”,” said Panelo.
In a TV interview, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said it’s too early to say if the incident is intentional after the cook of the boat that was rammed by the Chinese fishing vessel said the vessel may have “not seen them”.
This is contradicting to the statement of the boat captain that they were “intentionally” rammed.
"It is too early to say whether it's intentional or accidental. Let the proper investigation body establish that based on the testimonies of both sides," Piñol said.
Panelo said they will remain with their statement on the incident and if proven the Chinese fishing vessel abandoned the Filipino crewmen they might face violation of reckless imprudence resulting to damage of property.
“If the findings are both - with respect to the fact of abandonment ? they really need to face the consequences,” he said.
“(The) Chinese government will have to do something about it,” he said.
On the latest statement of the Chinese government, Panelo said the official only means that “both sides should stop speculating”.
“It’s not a question of belief… let’s not jump to conclusions,” he said.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lu Kang said in his press conference Monday that the country expressed their sympathy to the 22 abandoned fishermen in the Recto Bank but maintained their stand the collision is only an “accident”.
"On the early morning of June 10, an accidental collision took place between a Chinese fishing vessel and Filipino fishing vessels near the Liyue Tan. We express our sympathy to the Filipino fishermen who were in distress," Lu said.
Another Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, said that it was irresponsible for the Philippines to "politicize the incident without verification." Ella Dionisio/DMS