A town mayor in Occidental Mindoro on Monday said China's claim that a Chinese fishing vessel was "besieged" by Filipino boats in Recto Bank (Reed Bank) is a lie.
"Kasinungalingan po dahil imposible na habulin sila ng bangka (ng mga Pilipinong mangingisda) dahil 12-15 knots daw ang takbo ng fishing boat ng ano eh, at napakalaking fishing boat. Paanong hahabulin sila?" Romulo Festin, mayor of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, said in an interview on GMA News' Unang Balita.
"At walang mga fishermen sa tapat na ganoon karami para habulin sila. Kasinungalingan po," he added, after he got to talk to the fishermen in San Jose who were involved in the incident.
The Chinese Embassy issued a statement recently about the June 9 incident in Recto Bank wherein a Filipino fishing boat, the Gem-Vir I, was rammed by a Chinese vessel.
It admitted that the Chinese fishing vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 was involved in the incident and that it was "berthed" at the area when seven or eight Filipino fishing boats "besieged" it.
The Chinese Embassy added that when the Chinese vessel failed to shun a Filipino boat, "its steel cable on the lighting grid of larboard bumped into the Filipino pilothouse. The Filipino fishing boat tilted and its stern foundered."
"The Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen, but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats," the statement read. The Chinese vessel sailed away after confirming that the fishermen "were rescued on board of other Filipino fishing boats."
"'Yung statement pong binigay ng China na pangangatwiran 'yung reasoning nila eh kinokondena na kasinungalingan po lahat dahil huminto pa raw. Tiningnan pa pagtapos pinatay ang ilaw, tumakbo na ulit," Festin said. "Hindi naman ho sila parang binalikan eh."
"At wala hong humahabol (na mga bangka ng mga Pilipinong mangingisda)," he added.
Twenty-two Filipino fishermen were left in the open sea for six hours due to the ramming incident. A few of them paddled to a Vietnamese vessel far away to seek help. The Vietnamese vessel sailed near and rescued everyone.
Festin appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Foreign Affairs to attend to this matter and be firm in dealing with China.
"Ako'y humihingi kay Pangulong Duterte na sana bigyan ng kaukulang pansin at pati ang sa Foreign Affairs o kung sino man ang makikipag-negotiate na sana naman ay malagay sa maayos at medyo may muscle na konti sa pag-uusap," he said. —KG, GMA News