Malacanang presses China to release result of its probe into boat sinking in Recto Bank
Malacanang asked China to disclose the result of its own investigation into the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat in Recto Bank allegedly involving a Chinese ship.
In an interview by CNN Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo also expressed doubt on the earlier statement by the Chinese Embassy that Chinese fishing boat Yuemaobinyu 42212 was "besieged" by seven to eight Filipino fishing boat when it allegedly hit the Gem-Ver 1, a Philippine fishing vessel, on June 9.
The Chinese trawler allegedly abandoned the 22 Filipino crew after the incident.
"You know, I'm a lawyer and I want to know exactly: Why did you think that you were being besieged? For one, there is only one vessel. But I understand there were 19 boats, 19 fishermen's boats. There was a mother vessel, but there were 19 also others there. So, my question is: Is that what you're saying?" Panelo said in the television interview.
"If that's what you're saying, is that valid enough to justify to leave the fishermen in distress," he added.
Panelo said there was a communication between him and Chinese Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua through exchanges of text messages following the boat sinking incident.
Asked if he asked Zhao when China would come out with its investigation into the incident, Panelo said, "No, I didn't ask...they should just disclose it, why would I ask?"
He said there was an assurance from China that "they will hold accountable the guilty party and they will not tolerate such 'irresponsible behavior'."
Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, said if after the investigation it would be found out that those who were involved in the Recto Bank incident were Chinese militias, "They (Chinese) will have a problem. They will have to do something about that."
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday night he received the preliminary reports of the Philippine Coast Guard and Navy regarding what transpired on June 9.
But the official report has yet to be prepared and given to him for publication to the people, he has said. Celerina Monte/DMS