China opposes third party to probe Recto Bank boat sinking
China has rejected to have a third party that would investigate into the sinking of Fiipino fishing boat involving a Chinese vessel in Recto Bank, which is within the Philippine exclusive economic zone but is also being claimed by Beijing, a Palace official said on Monday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this was the information relayed to him by Philippine Ambassador to Beijing Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, who talked with the Chinese foreign ministry.
He said Sta. Romana gave a report to him.
"They (China) said, no need for a third party; let the two of us talk," Panelo said, quoting the report.
According to Panelo, China said if the two countries have separate investigations, "then let's meet."
"Let's create our respective task force. Then we exchange our findings, and then we decide what to do next," he said, citing the report.
"For them, a third party is not necessary if the two (countries) could agree," he added.
But Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, said if the two countries could not reconcile their respective findings, then the Philippines would insist for a third party.
"Some independent body. It doesn't have to be a country," he said.
He said the probe should determine whether the incident was an accident or not, who was at fault and whether the 22 Filipino fishermen were abandoned by the Chinese.
"Who will be accountable (if there was abandonment)?" he said.
Panelo noted that from the start, the Palace has condemned the alleged abandonment of the Filipino fishermen.
Despite the incident in Recto Bank, Duterte has been criticized for his seeming stance allowing Chinese fishermen to fish within the Philippine exclusive economic zone, which according to the Palace was part of a "mutual agreement" between him and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their October 2016 meeting in Beijing.
"That's the modus vivendi. It's like give and take for the meantime," Panelo said.
In an interview by ANC, asked if there was an actual agreement between Duterte and Xi, the spokesman said, "I think that was more of an informal agreement other than documented." Celerina Monte/DMS