De Lima questions why seafarers on Chinese vessel didn’t rescue Pinoys — again
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima has asked why seafarers on a supposed Chinese ship that collided with a Filipino fishing vessel did not bother to help Pinoys again — over a year after the same issue surfaced.
De Lima’s statement on Thursday was in reference to an incident where 14 local fishermen — dubbed as the Irma 14 — went missing after the collision between Vienna Wood, a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship and Liberty 5 which contained the Filipinos and was on its way to Navotas.
The senator said that such actions do not reflect friendship, especially since ties between the Philippines and China have been strengthened since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016.
“If what happened was a mere collision, why did the Chinese vessel not rescue the Filipino fishermen, as in any ordinary, unintentional and purely maritime accident? Ganyan ba ang kaibigan, papatayin ka o hahayaan kang mamatay?” De Lima asked.
(Is that how a friend treats you, either killing you or leaving you for dead?)
“Insulto na nga sa mga mangingisda natin na tinataboy sila sa atin mismong karagatan at hindi sila maipagtanggol ng gobyerno kapag inagrabyado at nalalagay sa kapahamakan, nakapanlulumo pa na ang pahayag ng Malacañang ay halos pumapabor sa mga siga at bully na Chinese!” she added.
(Our fisherfolk are already insulted when they are driven away from our own seas and with the government’s failure to defend when they are abused or in danger, it is saddening that Malacañang appears to favor the Chinese.)
De Lima also made references to an incident last June 2019, days before the country’s 121st Independence Day, where a Chinese vessel rammed fishing boat Gem-Ver 1 near Recto Bank, which was within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
After the collision, the Filipino fishermen were also left at sea, and were eventually rescued by Vietnamese seafarers.
INQUIRER.net has sought the side of Malacañang over De Lima’s accusations but it has yet to respond as of posting time.
But De Lima, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, warned the government against labeling the incident as an ordinary clash again, and from appeasing China again — as they supposedly did in the Gem-Ver incident.
“Wasak ang bangka at nawawala ang ating 14 na mangingisda. Hindi ito ordinaryo, hindi rin ito unang beses, at mas lalong hindi lang sa mga mangingisdang Pilipino ginagawa, tapos sasabihin ng gobyerno simpleng banggaan lang!” De Lima said in her handwritten message.
“Kung ang bumunggo ay private vessel, at hindi sanctioned ng China, dapat panagutin ang private vessel hindi yung mabilis pa sa alas-kwatro na sinasalag n’yo ang pananagutan nila. Ano, feelings na naman ng China?” she asked.
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