Bato Dela Rosa has another suspect in WPS boat collision
‘Leave no stone unturned’

Bato Dela Rosa has another suspect in WPS boat collision

/ 05:36 AM October 07, 2023

Bato has another suspectin WPS boat collision

Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa —Senate PRIB

Talk about having usual suspects.

Perhaps one cannot blame this senator for having such instincts; he’s an ex-top cop, after all.


Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Friday said China could be behind the recent collision between a foreign tanker and a Filipino fishing boat that left three Filipino crew members dead.


Despite the general consensus among concerned officials that the Oct. 2 incident had nothing to do with the maritime dispute between Manila and Beijing in the West Philippine Sea, Dela Rosa said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) should “leave no stone unturned” in its investigation.

“You cannot blame those with dirty minds from speculating that the ship was purposely used to ram [the fishing boat] because they (China) are already angry with our fishermen,” the senator, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, told reporters.

“That’s a possibility,” he added. “As an investigator, you have to look at all possible angles in the incident.”

“We have to leave no stones unturned in conducting an investigation. I hope it was a plain accident so that there will be no political or geopolitical implications,” Dela Rosa also said.

“It’s a very unfortunate incident because the fishermen went there for their living (but) they ended up dying,” added the senator, who plans to have the Senate conduct its own inquiry.

No connection

But Sen. Francis Tolentino said it would be better to just wait for the results of the PCG investigation.


“We cannot speculate if there’s such an angle,” he said in a separate Zoom interview.

PCG commandant Adm. Artemio Abu had earlier said the collision had nothing to do with the recurring tensions between the Philippines and China over the latter’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

Abu also clarified that the incident happened in the waters off Pangasinan—not in the area of Bajo de Masinloc, or Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, some 280 kilometers further west of the province. China occupies that area within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

READ: DFA awaits probe result on fishermen’s death in Bajo de Masinloc

Maritime officials had initially identified a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker—the Pacific Anna—as the vessel that rammed the Filipino fishing boat Dearyn.

Tolentino said the crew of the Pacific Anna should be held liable under both the country’s domestic law and international maritime law.

The PCG should also look for the vessel’s “shipping agent” here as part of its inquiry, he added.

“Under existing international regulations, you cannot detain the captain or shipowner. But they are required to comply [with regulations],” said the senator, who has a master’s degree in public international law.

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“The ship captain should have observed his duty to exercise proper seamanship and necessary measures to avoid collision,” Tolentino said.

—Marlon Ramos
TAGS: Bajo de Masinloc, Bato Dela Rosa, boat, China, collision

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