Absence of justice for Filipino fishermen rammed by Chinese vessel: 1 year and counting
MANILA, Philippines—Justice has yet to be served for the 22 Filipino fishermen whose boat was rammed and sent sinking by a Chinese vessel inside Philippine territory a year ago.
“One really glaring and still unresolved story—a story without a just ending yet is precisely those of 22 fishermen who were basically hit and run by a Chinese vessel,” Sen. Risa Hontiveros said at an online forum.
The assault on June 9 last year happened near the resource-rich Recto (Reed) Bank. The Chinese trawler abandoned the 22 fishermen in the open sea after their boat sank. They were rescued by Vietnamese fishermen a few hours later.
“The government should really press a case for justice to be done for the Filipino fisherfolk because of the violations of international maritime law committed against them,” Hontiveros said.
The Duterte administration drew flak after appearing to side with China after the assault.
In a joint report by the Philippine Coast Guard and Maritime Industry Authority in July 2019, the Chinese vessel was found to have intentionally rammed the Filipino fishing boat and abandoned the Filipino fishermen, leaving them for dead in the sea. The report described it as a “very serious” case.
The Chinese vessel maneuvered to return some 50 meters from the boat it struck, a move which was seen as a sign that the Chinese crew was aware of what it did but did not respond to the Filipinos’ call for help.
The Chinese vessel turned off its lights and sailed away, failing to provide assistance to distressed persons at sea — a violation of regulations in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.
In August of the same year, the Guangdong Fishery Mutual Insurance Association muttered sorry on behalf of the Chinese ship owner, calling it an “accident.” They asked the Philippines to file a claim for compensation.
The names of the ship owner, ship captain and crew of the Chinese vessel were never disclosed.
Later in September, Shanghai-based tycoon Xue Chengbiao, of Shanghai Jucheng Capital Group, donated a 10-ton boat with the Chinese name, FB Pengyou, to replace the GemVer, the Filipinos’ fishing boat destroyed by the Chinese vessel.
But the donated boat broke in half when hit by strong waves in November 2019, an indication of its flimsy build.
A study of Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said that the Chinese ship Yuemaobinyu 42212 that rammed GemVer was involved in state-backed activities in the past, strongly suggesting “the 42212 is more than just a normal fishing boat.”
It was found, through public information available, that the culprit boat operates from a port linked to China’s maritime militia unit.
Because of this information, the AMTI said it “raises the question of whether the collision with the Gem-Ver was intentional.”
Edited by TSB
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
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.