By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros Thursday called on President Duterte to immediately order the recall of the Philippine ambassador and all Filipino consuls in China.
‘’It stands to reason that if President Duterte can order the recall of our envoy and consuls in Canada over a dispute on garbage, he can do the same to defend and secure the lives of our fisherfolk and the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,’’ she said.
This as Hontiveros condemned the crew of a Chinese ship who abandoned Filipino fishermen after the Chinese vessel allegedly collided with and sank the smaller Philippine vessel near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea last June 9.
Hontiveros said the abandonment of Filipino fishermen to the mercy of the sea was grossly despicable and inhumane.
‘’It was also treacherous and intended to harm if proven that the reported collision was intentional,’’ she added.
Hontiveros said she fully supports the call of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for the Philippine government to conduct a formal investigation on the matter and for concrete diplomatic steps to be taken.
The recall order, according to Hontiveros, should remain in full effect until the Chinese government has done the following:
1. Identify the Chinese vessel (civilian or military?) that collided with and sank our fishing vessel, and explain its presence in the West Philippine Sea.
2. Identify and punish the captain and entire crew of the Chinese vessel who abandoned our distressed fisherfolk to the sea.
3. Commit that such incidents will not happen again in the future.
Hontiveros also said she is calling on the President to implement a foreign policy that fully complies with and upholds our international obligations, particularly the arbitral tribunal ruling on the West Philippine Sea.
The sinking of our ship mirrors the state of Philippine sovereignty, she added.
The lady senator said President Duterte’s continued subservience to China could no longer hold the country’s sinking sovereignty afloat, which plunges deeper into a dark, bottomless abyss every day that he fails to enforce a foreign policy that truly represents our people’s patriotic aspirations and interests.
‘’This cannot stand anymore,’’ she emphasized.
‘’Lastly, I would like to thank the crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel who rescued our fisherfolk,’’ she said.
‘’Their selflessness and heroism demonstrated that the best ways to effectively respond to foreign aggressors and secure peace and stability in the region are through solidarity, unity and multilateralism,’’ she stressed.