Romualdez to public: Trust agencies, don’t speculate amid Masinloc incident
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has called on the public to trust the government agencies probing the latest Bajo de Masinloc incident, where three Filipino fisherfolk were killed, and avoid speculating about the details of the issue.
Romualdez on Wednesday said that he, as Speaker of the House, would support the steps taken by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. regarding the incident.
According to reports, three fishermen died while another was injured after their fishing boat collided allegedly with a foreign but still-unidentified vessel 289 kilometers from Infanta town of Pangasinan, near Bajo de Masinloc. Details of the incident have not been released, but the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has been directed to conduct a probe.
“While the President has taken the lead in these challenging times, as Speaker of the House, I stand firmly behind him, echoing the call for patience and understanding. It is paramount that we, as a nation, trust our institutions and refrain from speculating, ensuring the investigation proceeds without hindrance,” Romualdez said.
The Speaker also called out to government agencies to facilitate the quick provision of legal and financial remedies to affected families.
“To assist the bereaved families during their time of grief, we advise all government agencies concerned to reach out to them immediately and extend financial support, counseling services, and legal assistance,” Romualdez said.
“We, in the government, are committed to ensuring that they are not left to face this tragic loss alone,” he added.
According to Barangay Cato village chief Napoleon Domalanta, survivors of the incident said their fishing boat, FB Dearyl, was at rest amid the rough seas while the 14 fishermen were preparing to send out its smaller service boats to catch fish.
At this moment, a passing ship got dangerously near them before slamming into their vessel. As of now, it has not been ascertained if the ramming was intentional, but the vessel’s crew that bumped into the fishing boat did not stop to help.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he and the administration are deeply saddened over the three fisherfolk’s death. He, however, also asked the public to avoid jumping to conclusions about the incident and wait for the PCG investigation instead.
“Let us allow the PCG to do its job and investigate, and let us refrain from engaging in speculation in the meantime,” Marcos said in a tweet.
Similarly, Romualdez expressed sadness over the incident, noting that the fisherfolk are the heart of the country’s nation — providing food and nurturing the country’s waters simultaneously.
“As the President highlighted, these fishermen represent the heart of our nation, braving the seas daily to provide for their families. Their sudden loss has left a void that reverberates across our country,” he said.
“In these trying times, it is essential that we come together as a nation to support one another, especially the families affected. We urge all parties and nations with interests in the area to work cooperatively, uphold maritime laws and international principles, and prioritize the safety and welfare of all individuals at sea,” he added.
This is not the first time a Filipino fishing boat was rammed by a foreign vessel in the West Philippine Sea. In 2019, the Department of National Defense confirmed that fishing boat Gem-Ver 1 sank near Recto Bank after a Chinese fishing vessel hit it on June 9 — days before the country celebrates its Independence Day.
Later reports showed that the Chinese vessel’s crew abandoned fisherfolk from Gem-Ver 1, who were subsequently rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel nearby.
Eventually, a P6 million compensation was given to the owner of the fishing boat and the fisherfolk affected in that particular incident.