Fishing boat captain backs out of meeting with Duterte
CITY OF CALAPAN – The captain of the Philippine fishing vessel that was reportedly rammed and sunk by a Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea last week backed out of a scheduled meeting on Monday in Malacañang with President Duterte.
Elizer Salilig, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) regional director, in a phone interview, confirmed that Junel Insigne on Sunday afternoon, decided against attending the meeting.
Junard Insigne, Junel’s brother, said the boat captain got off the van travelling to Manila from San Jose town in Occidental Mindoro with BFAR officials when it reached Oriental Mindoro.
Salilig, however, said FB Gem-Vir 1’s cook, Richard Blaza and vessel owner Ma. Fe Dela Torre are still with the BFAR team traveling to Manila.
The Malacañang meeting was set a week after the incident in the contested West Philippine Sea, involving a Chinese vessel and the Filipinos’ fishing boat.
The 22 Filipino fishermen and crew were reportedly abandoned by crewmen of the Chinese vessel at Recto (Reed) Bank.
The Filipinos were eventually rescued by Vietnamese seafarers.
Sallig said the fishing boat skipper is still traumatized by the event.
He added that other groups keen on extending assistance to the fishermen will meet with them in Malacañang.
Earlier, Salilig said Junel had expressed fear that “he might get arrested or something” prior to the Palace meeting. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)