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DA chief Piñol calls on those spreading false info about Recto Bank incident to stop

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol called on those who are allegedly spreading false information about the Recto Bank incident and the 22 Filipino fishermen to stop.

On Monday, Piñol presented boat cook Richard Blasa to the media. He, however, advised Blasa not to issue a statement as he will submit Blasa's affidavit to the Cabinet cluster meeting this afternoon.

"Doon sa gumagawa ng kuwento na 'yun daw mga mangingisda ay hindi naman totoong mangingisda, ito daw ay drama lang para magalit tayo sa China... tigilan na po natin 'yan. Di po totoo ang mga haka-haka na 'yan," Piñol said during a press conference.

"Kaya natatakot ang mangingisda dahil kung ano-anong balita ang lumalabas eh. Ang sinasama ng loob ni Mrs. Dela Torre, 'yung kuwento-kuwento na sinadya daw silang magpabangga para mabayaran sila, sabi niya masyadong masakit sa amin 'yun, nadamage na nga kami, gagawin pang issue sa kanila," he added.

The F/B GEM-VIR 1's, which was reportedly rammed by a Chinese vessel last June 9, is owned by the family of one Fe dela Torre.

According to Piñol, the DA already extended assistance to the Filipino fishermen as it will took months before they may use their fishing boat again.

He vowed that the government will do anything to protect the fishermen.

"Initially nagbigay na kami ng tulong. Pagdating nung mga mangingisda, nagbigay kami ng tig-iisang sakong bigas para may makain lang," he said.

Piñol also said DA would coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the psycho-social intervention of the 22 crewmen.

It was reported that the boat captain, Jonel Insigne, backed out from the planned meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte as he is still traumatized by the incident.

A week after the incident, the 22 crewmen are still waiting for the statement of the President about the issue. They are also dismayed with the remark of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi that the incident was unintentional.

Duterte has not spoken yet as regards the issue. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, defended the President, saying Duterte had already done so through his "alter egos" in the government.

In a statement released by the Chinese Embassy of the Philippines, China claimed that Philippines boats besieged the Chinese vessel. It also denied that there was a hit-and-run incident last week. — RSJ, GMA News