MANILA – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday said the government has yet to determine if the vessel that hit the boat of Filipino fishermen near Recto Bank belonged to China.
Lorenzana said he is waiting for the results of the investigation of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Armed Forces’ Western Command (Wescom).
“I was only basing our report to the media on the statement of the fishermen kasi hatinggabi nangyari, madilim although sila may ilaw. Nabangga sila habang andun sila sa kanilang boat,” he told reporters in General Santos City.
(I was only basing our report to the media on the statement of the fishermen because it happened at midnight, it was dark but the fishermen had light. They were hit while they were on their boat.)
“I’m waiting for the formal investigation at saka yung imbestigasyon ng Coast Guard at Wescom kung ano talaga kasi ang ating pinagbabasehan yung initial statement ng fishermen.”
(I’m waiting for the formal investigation and the probe of the Coast Guard and Wescom because we based our report on the initial statement of the fishermen.)
The Wescom earlier said the Chinese ship “accidentally collided” with the Filipino boat around 12 midnight Sunday.
Lorenzana said Beijing has been informed about the incident and has also launched a probe.
Malacañang earlier said the Philippines might cut diplomatic ties with China if the incident was found to be intentional.
Lorenzana, however, said it would not greatly affect the two nation’s relations.
“Di naman siguro malaking bagay na maaapektuhan (I don’t think it will be greatly affected). We will find out kung ano aksyon nila (what their action is) if it will be proven na it’s a Chinese vessel, then we will find out what are their actions,” he said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Manila has filed a diplomatic protest over the incident while the Palace called on Beijing to sanction the Chinese ship crew for abandoning the Filipino fishermen.