Robredo recalls visit to Recto Bank 22
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo recalled on Sunday her visit to the 22 Filipino fishermen whose boat was hit by a Chinese trawler at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, saying the fishermen were tense, nervous, and seemingly did not want to speak at first.
Robredo visited the fishermen on June 21 at Barangay San Roque, San Jose town in Occidental Mindoro.
During the visit, the fishermen said Robredo talked and listened to them as they narrated their story of the ramming incident.
While the photos of the meeting looked light-hearted, Robredo admitted that the fishermen were tense and nervous at first and seemingly did not want to talk.
“Noong umpisa, ramdam ko na, parang, tense, parang ninenerbiyos, parang ayaw magsalita. Iyon iyong naramdaman ko noong umpisa,” Robredo said in BISErbisyong LENI, her weekly show aired over AM radio DZXL.
[At the start, I felt they were tense, like they were nervous, like they refused to talk. That’s what I felt at the start.]
Robredo said, however, that the mood become lighter as they spoke.
“Actually, noong umpisa nga, parang lima lang yata sa 22 na mangingisda iyong nandoon. Pero noong nagkukuwentuhan na kami, siguro naramdaman nila na nandoon lang naman ako para kumustahin sila. Siguro nasabihan nila iyong ibang mga mangingisda, kaya dumating na iyong iba,” she added.
[Actually, at the start, there I think only five of the 22 fishermen who were present. But as we went on chatting, maybe they felt that I was really there just to see how they were doing. Maybe the other fishermen were told about it, that’s why the others arrived.]
The Vice President also expressed concern over the livelihood of the affected fishermen, even calling the Filipino fishing vessel involved in the ramming incident “useless” because of the damage it sustained.
“Kasi iyong estimate nila, granting na ngayon na kaagad mapaayos — pero wala pang pampaayos — pinakamabilis na aayusin iyon, mga tatlong buwan,” Robredo said. “Parang bawat layag, doon lang nila inaasahan iyong kanilang income. Wala namang ipon.”
[Their estimate, granting that they could start repairing it right now — but then they have no money for that — the fastest it can be repaired is around 3 months.]
Robredo also clarified that the P50,000 cash given to each of the fishermen did not come from the Office of the Vice President. It came from her Angat Buhay program.
“Sinabi ko din sa kanila na iyong tulong na binigay, hindi iyon galing sa opisina namin. Kami lang iyong messenger. Iyong aming Angat Buhay partners, sila iyong nag-raise. Sila talaga iyong nag-raise ng pera para ibigay,” Robredo said.
[I told them that the financial aid given did not come from my office. I was just the messenger. The Angat Buhay partners were the ones who raised the money that was given.]
The Reed Bank incident happened on June 9.
The Filipino fishermen were reportedly left floating in the middle of the West Philippine Sea after their boat was ramming by a Chinese trawler at Recto Bank, internationally known as Reed Bank.
After hours of floating at sea, they were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.