Duterte to ‘Recto Bank 22’: ‘I’m sorry, but that’s how it is’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte apologized Monday to the 22 Filipino fishermen abandoned in the open sea by a Chinese vessel, but he reiterated that it was a maritime accident.
“Well, I’m sorry, but that’s how it is,” Duterte told reporters after gracing the premiere of the movie “Kontradiksyon,” a political action thriller about the Philippines’ drug war.
The President issued the reaction after he was told that the fishermen felt the government neglected them.
“So I am sorry if that is how they feel. But they know that that area is claimed by both. For China, it happened within their jurisdiction. For us [it happened] within our jurisdiction. We have two conflicting claims of ownership,” he said.
Duterte earlier called the incident a mere “maritime accident,” a remark that was heavily criticized by lawmakers and various groups and individuals.
“It’s a maritime incident. Little in the sense that it did not result to any confrontation. This not to belittle anything. There was damage but luckily nobody died,” he said, adding that the incident would not justify the sending military ships to the disputed seas.
“That is not a reason to go to any military exercise there. If you do that, that’s war,” he said.
On June 9, a Chinese vessel allegedly rammed a Filipino boat at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea and left Filipino fishermen at sea.
(Editor: Eden Estopace)
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