De Lima demands justice for 22 Filipino fishermen

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has joined the nationwide condemnation of the deplorable act committed by a Chinese vessel that sunk a boat of 22 Filipinos and endangered their lives by abandoning them in the West Philippines Sea (WPS) last June 9.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, urged the government to seriously investigate the collision to find out the real motive behind the Chinese vessel’s move to abandon the fishermen.

“The actions of the Chinese fishermen who abandoned the 22 Filipino fishermen after their collision in the Recto Bank is deplorable and I join our community of patriotic Filipinos in condemning their acts and calling for justice,” she said.

“Kailangan magkaroon ng imbestigasyon diyan upang pagbayarin ang mga may sala at alamin kung: 1) intensyonal ba ang nangyaring banggaan?; at 2) ano ba talaga ang ginagawa ng mga Tsino sa ating EEZ? Baka naman kaya sila nagmamadali ay dahil may tinatago sila,” she added.

De Lima said the investigation could shed light whether the Chinese vessel was engaged in some unlawful activities, such as smuggling or poaching, during the incident, which could have influenced their decision to abandon the Filipino fishermen.

Last June 12, Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana revealed that a Chinese fishing vessel abandoned a sinking Philippine fishing boat after hitting it at Recto Bank in the WPS on June 9.

A Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity rescued the 22 Filipino fishermen in coordination with the Philippine military when the Philippine fishing boat sank after being hit.

“I agree with Sec. Delfin Lorenzana that the movement of the Chinese vessel in maintaining its course without slowing down in spite of the collision indicates that, at the very least, the abandonment is intentional,” said the former justice secretary.

The lady Senator from Bicol lamented how Mr. Duterte faced the issue with his trademark deafening silence in the face of Chinese aggression and misconduct.

“These are not the reaction that we need and deserve from our President and top diplomat. This sends an unfortunate message to the world that we tolerate injustice from China against our own people,” she noted.

De Lima said the Filipino people should demand to hold Chinese government responsible for the actions of their vessels operating within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EZZ).

“Apologists of China would argue that this is a matter between non-State actors and that it would be sufficient that the Chinese government merely sanction the operators of the Chinese vessel. It is not enough. A clear injustice has been done and the Chinese fishermen committed a crime against our countrymen,” said De Lima

“Hindi tayo dapat matakot humarap sa China para humingi ng hustisya. Minsan na natin ginawa yan at nanalo tayo sa ating kaso laban sa kanila. We should insist on our internationally recognized rights and join our ASEAN neighbors and the rest of the world in demanding compliance from China,” she added. Amid the Philippines’ rightful claim over the WPS and the China’s continued aggression in the disputed islands, Mr. Duterte continues to betray the country and its victory by maintaining its policy of kowtowing to China. Known for his fondness of China, he also tolerated the influx of illegal Chinese workers in the country.

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