Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has deplored the administration for coming to China’s defense in the ramming incident involving its ship and a Filipino fishing boat in Reed Bank by coercing the local fishermen to toe the government’s propaganda line.
De Lima made the statement after Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol spoke with fishermen onboard the Philippine boat Gem-Vir 1 during a closed-door meeting in Bgy. San Roque, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro last June 19.
“Treason is one thing. Forcing the fishermen to tow the line of the traitors is another. Halatang pinwersa at diniktahan ang mga mangingisda na sumakay na lamang sa linya ng gobyerno,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 539.
“Not only helpless abandonment, but the shock of blatant betrayal, was etched on the faces of the Gem-Vir crew as they were lined up like criminals by Sec. Piñol in a press conference that revealed more in what it showed than in what was said,” she added.
In his initial statement, FB Gem-Vir 1 boat captain Junel Insigne shared that the Chinese vessel rammed their stationary boat last June 9, saying he was convinced that the collision was intentional on the part of the Chinese.
But following a meeting with Piñol with the presence of police in full battle gear, Insigne claimed he was no longer sure about what exactly happened at sea, saying “medyo naguguluhan po ako eh… Parang binangga parang hindi rin po.”
Note that Duterte called the sinking of the Filipino fishing boat as a “little maritime incident,” echoing the earlier claim of the Chinese foreign ministry that the collision and boat sinking were just “an ordinary maritime traffic incident.”
The lady Senator from Bicol lamented how the present government have become the puppeteers to their own countrymen, calling the Duterte officials as “the new Makapili traitors of our time.”
“Ganito na kagarapal ang pagtataksil ng mga opisyales ng gobyerno. Naiwan ang mga mangingisda na malunod sa gitna ng karagatan pagkatapos palubugin ang kanilang bangka, muli silang iniwang nalulunod sa kataksilan ng sarili nilang gobyerno,” she said.
“Masakit iwan na palutang-lutang sa gitna ng dagat ng mga banyagang mapagsamsam. Pero higit na kalunus-lunos na ipatapon sa dagat ng sariling gobyerno na kumampi pa sa banyaga,” she added.
Amid their ordeal, the former justice secretary reminded the Filipino fishermen that they are not alone in their fight and that the Filipino people are behind them in every step of the way.
“Sa mga mangigisda ng Gem-Vir, nakakasiguro kayo, pinagkanulo man kayo ng mga pinuno ng ating bansa, hinding-hindi kayo iiwan ng inyong mga kababayan. Kasama ninyo ang buong sambayanang Pilipino sa laban na ito,” she said.
“No amount of excuses, charades, denials, and lies by Duterte, Pinol, Cusi, Panelo, or Locsin will alter the inevitability of a nation and a people united against traitors and their foreign master,” added the lady senator. Branded by political pundits as China’s lackey, Mr. Duterte continues to betray the country by refusing to assert the Philippines’ rightful claim over the West Philippine Sea and push back against China’s continued aggression in the disputed islands.