Hontiveros: Energy chief’s remark on sinking of PH boat ‘insensitive’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros has slammed as “insensitive” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi’s remark dismissing as “unintentional” the ramming of a Filipino boat by a Chinese vessel at Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea.
The opposition legislator in a statement Monday said: “Secretary Alfonso Cusi’s comments are the height of insensitivity to our poor fisherfolk, ignorance of facts and even bordering on the treacherous.”
After inspecting the damage on the Filipino fishing boat in Occidental Mindor, Cusi was reported to have said that the wreckage could have been more severe if the ramming was intentional. The F/B Gem-Vir 1 was damaged at its stern.
“Is the Secretary of Energy now an expert at evaluating collisions between sea vessels? Is he now lawyering for the Chinese government? What additional proof does Secretary Cusi need? For our fishing vessel to be completely wrecked and for people to die?” Hontiveros pointed out.
“The Chinese government itself has admitted that their boat rammed ours. Our Department of Defense, as well as the consistent accounts of our fishermen, also confirm this,” she added.
According to Hontiveros, Cusi’s statements “effectively side” with China when he tries to “downplay the severity” of the incident.
“Is there some kind of ‘fifth column’ within the Cabinet that favors China’s attempts to silence the issue, instead of trying to investigate the matter thoroughly and look after our fishermen?” she noted.
Hontiveros then urged the Duterte administration “rein in its own people and stop them from making wild, outlandish remarks.”
She also urged Cusi to apologize to the “aggrieved” fishermen and the entire nation unless he wants to be seen as a “fifth column.” (Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)