Asking China reparation okay ‘once facts have been established’ – Palace
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said demanding reparation from China over the ramming of a Filipino fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea should be done “once the facts have been established.”
“While we understand the emotional outcry of our citizens, we call on everyone to be circumspect in this time of confusion. There will be a time to demand reparation once the facts have been established,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo then assured the 22 fishermen assistance from the government and a “relentless” pursuit of justice.
While Malacañang immediately condemned the abandonment of the fishermen after the incident, it eventually cast doubts on their account citing the emergence of what it called as “new circumstances.”
Last Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte cautioned that deploying gray ships to the area might only make the situation worse as he downplayed the June 9 incident in the West Philippine Sea as a “little maritime accident.”
A Chinese vessel reportedly rammed and eventually sunk an anchored Filipino boat at Recto (Reed) Bank that Sunday, and abandoned the Filipino fishermen who held on for dear life while afloat for several hours in the West Philippine Sea.
Highlighting the lack of “facts” regarding the incident, Panelo again rejected Senator Panfilo Lacson’s call to invoke the Philippines’ Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States to “balance” the power in the disputed area.
Duterte’s official mouthpiece reiterated the MDT can only be invoked in case of an “act of aggression” against the Philippines.
“Thus, invoking the strong medicine of the MDT at this time when facts about the maritime incident in our exclusive economic zone have not yet been firmly established would not only be imprudent, it would be irresponsible as well,” said Panelo, who also serves as Duterte’s chief legal counsel.
The Palace official thanked Lacson for his suggestion but said the government’s actions “cannot be based on conjecture, speculation, or even emotion.”
In a radio interview earlier, Panelo even called Lacson’s input “reckless” and “premature.”
The 66-year-old defense accord dictates that both nations would support each other if either the Philippines or the US were to be attacked by an external party.
(Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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