The Palace on Monday backed the filing of raps
against the Chinese crew involved in the Recto Bank incident
, saying the Chinese could be held liable for criminal offenses after they left the fishermen adrift at sea.
“There is only one way by which they can justify the abandonment of our fisherfolks. And that is if by so doing, their lives would have been endangered,” Panelo said.
He made the statement even as Senator Ronald Dela Rosa said charges should be filed against the Chinese crewmen behind the ramming and sinking of a Philippine fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea.
He said this was based on the results of an investigation by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority.
He said those liable in the incident on June 9 should be charged.
Meanwhile, former Ambassador Alberto Encomienda has defended Senate President Vicente Sotto’s position on the issue of whether the Philippines has the exclusive right to explore the marine resources in the disputed West Philippine Sea, which is part of the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Encomienda, the former envoy to Malaysia and Singapore, lent some credence to Sotto’s statement that it is contestable to invoke exclusivity in marine resource use in the area because it is technically impossible to determine their sources.
Asked when the Philippines file a case against the Chinese crew, Panelo said the country will compare its findings with the results of the investigation of the Chinese government before releasing a joint statement.
If the Philippines and China would have conflicting results of the investigation, Panelo said, “We’ll talk about how can we resolve the difference.”
Malacañang on Monday said there was no contradiction between the PCG-Marina findings that the Recto Bank incident was “a very serious marine casualty” and President Duterte’s remark that it’s just “a little maritime incident.”
Panelo said Duterte did not belittle the collision between a Chinese trawler and a Filipino boat.
He said Duterte meant that the incident should not be blown into an international crisis.
“It is serious in the sense that when you leave our countrymen thereafter that accident, then that’s a serious matter,” Panelo said.
“But you cannot blow that and make it into an international crisis. You know why? Because that was a Chinese vessel; that’s not China Republic.”
Panelo made the remark after the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority deemed the June 9 Recto Bank incident was a “very serious marine casualty.”
In its 14-page report dated June 20, PCG-Marina said the Chinese vessel involved in the Recto Bank incident failed to undertake measures to avoid hitting the Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver.
The Chinese ship also abandoned the Filipino crew despite “direct knowledge of their distress situation,” according to the report.
“By maneuvering back and stopping approximately 50 meters away from FB ‘Gem-Ver’ with her fishing lights open, the other vessel can be considered to have direct knowledge of the distress situation,” the document read.
It said this was in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.
The report did not state whether the Chinese ship that sank the boat was a private vessel or used by China’s maritime militia. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and Rey E. Requejo
READ: PH-China joint probe avoids poaching issue
READ: Joint probe gets Rody's go-ahead
READ: Palace, DFA clash over joint probe of boat ramming
READ: China broaches joint probe on boat ramming