By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Eight days after the incident, Malacañang assured that the Philippines is not a slave of China, reiterating that President Duterte is just being cautious before making any statement about Recto Bank incident.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Felix dela Torre, the owner of the sunken F/B Gem-Ver fishing boat, expressed that he feels that Filipinos have no right in their own territory.
“Parang alipin po tayo ng China. Parang wala tayong karapatan sa sarili nating nasasakupan (It’s like we are slaves of China. It’s like we have no rights over our own territory),” Dela Torre said.
Dela Torre’s boat sank after it was hit by a Chinese vessel while it was anchored near the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea. The 22 Filipinos who were in the boat were said to be abandoned by the Chinese vessel and were rescued by a Vietnamese vessel three hours later.
In his Monday press briefing, Panelo said that the Philippines is not China’s slave, and that issues of sovereignty is off the table.
“Siyempre (Obviously), the response is we can never be slaves to anyone… That includes every country in the world,” he said.
Malacañang earlier condemned the act of abandoning the 22 Filipino fishermen to the mercy of the waters by the Chinese vessel, calling it barbaric and inhumane. However, the captain of the Chinese vessel denied the act.
“We are responsible. We are cautious, the President is,” Panelo said.
“As I said, the President, as a lawyer and as President, will have to wait for all the facts to set in before he makes a declaration or any move,” he added.
The Palace official then said that Malacañang is not doubting the statement of the fishermen and said that its anger about the abandonment will stay until China proves that their vessel did not abandon the Filipino fishing crew.
“Not doubting but we want to know the facts since there is a contrary claim,” Panelo said.
“Kung kinwentuhan ka ba naman na iniwan ka doon ng ganoon-ganoon lang, aba siyempre magre-react ka agad. Pero yung ating nirereklamo nagsabi ‘Hoy, ‘di namin ginawa ‘yan?’ Ha? Oh sige nga (Of course you will get mad as well if you hear that they were just abandoned there. But the subject of our complaint is denying it. Really? Okay). Show us,” he added.
“Well we take it (statement of the fishermen) at its face value until proven otherwise by other contradicting testimonials and proof,” he continued.
President Duterte has yet to make a public comment about the incident since it was reported on June 12 via statement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. The incident was said to take place on June 9.
Since then, the Department of Foreign Affairs has filed a diplomatic protest against China’s act of abandoning the Filipino fishermen. The Department of National Defense is also investigating the incident.