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Gem-Ver fishermen compensation ‘long overdue, insufficient,’ says group

A national fisherfolk group has criticized the “long overdue” and “insufficient” compensation for the 22 crewmen of F/B Gem-Ver 1 whose boat was rammed and sank by a Chinese vessel near Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in 2019.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Friday questioned why it took three years for the victimized fishermen to receive their settlement and demanded they receive higher compensation.

“Our demand is that the compensation should cover not only the cost of the fishing vessel and their supposed income on the night of the incident but also the aftermath wherein their livelihood activities have not returned to normal,” PAMALAKAYA said.

The fisherfolks group likewise called for the end of the alleged “Chinese aggression” in the entire West Philippine Sea saying this will give “full justice to all the Filipino fisherfolks who are victims of Chinese harassment and hostility in our territorial waters.”

The justice department on Thursday confirmed the Filipino fishermen will receive P6-million compensation — half of their intended settlement worth P12M.

To recall, Chinese fishing vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 in June 2019 rammed the Gem-Ver (Gem-Vir) which was stationed at Recto Bank. The trawler then sailed away, abandoning 22 Filipino fishermen in the open sea for at least four hours before a passing Vietnam vessel rescued them.

The owner of the Chinese ship extended his apology to the affected fisherfolks through the Philippine Embassy in China.

China said its vessel had not intended to leave the Filipinos but was forced to sail away for fear of being besieged by several other Filipino boats near the area—a claim belied by the fishermen.

President Rodrigo Duterte also apologized to the Filipino fishermen but maintained his view that it was nothing but a “maritime incident.”—LDF, GMA News