Malacañang on Monday urged the twenty-two Filipino fishermen whose boat sank after it was allegedly rammed by a Chinese vessel off Recto Bank (Reed Bank) to file an insurance claim to get their compensation.
“Hindi ba ang sabi ng Chinese government (Didn’t the Chinese government say), we have to file an insurance claim. That is why they should file. Hindi ka naman basta bibigyan, siyempre may insurance iyong shipping company (They won’t just be given, of course, the shipping company has insurance),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo said he has no knowledge whether the 22 fishermen have already filed an insurance claim but noted that the fishermen have received assistance from government and other groups.
“Don’t underestimate the fishermen. They can go to their mayor, for instance, and ask help. Oh di dadalhin sila ng mayor doon sa proper entity (They’ll be brought by the mayor to the proper entity),” Panelo said.
Despite this, the Palace official insisted that the Chinese boat owner should compensate the Filipino fishermen.
“Kailangan dahil sila ang may kasalanan eh — iyong ship. Moreover, ‘di ba inamin naman nila. Sabi nila, they are willing to pay kahit na aksidente lang (They have to because it’s their fault –their ship’s. Moreover, didn’t they admit it. They said they are willing to pay even if it’s just an accident),” Panelo said.
In a memorandum penned to Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. which was posted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) last month, a letter from an unnamed association relayed the Chinese shipowner’s apologies.
Reports showed that the letter sender came from Chen Shiquin, president of the Guangdong Fishery Mutual Insurance Association.
“It is fortunate that there were no casualties. I feel deep regret that this accident had to happen and I would like to express my deep sympathy to the Filipino fishermen. The shipowner of the Chinese fishing boat involved, through our Association, would like to express his sincere apology to the Filipino fishermen,” it read.
Panelo accepted the Chinese shipowner’s apology and welcomed his humility to take responsibility and acknowledge that compensation must be provided to cover the actual loss.
Panelo, meanwhile, refused to comment on a Washington-based think tank’s study that Chinese Coast Guard vessels patrolling features in the West Philippine Sea are purposely making their presence felt.
He said the Palace will ask the Department of National Defense to validate that observation released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI).
“Assuming that it’s true. Iba-validate pa nga natin eh (We have to validate it). Then if that is validated, then we file the usual diplomatic protest,” Panelo said.
“The fact alone na nag-file ka ng diplomatic protest eh di may nangyari na (you’re filing a diplomatic protest means something happened). You’re complaining,” he added.
In its Sept. 26 report, the AMTI identified 14 Chinese Coast Guard vessels broadcasting automatic identification system (AIS) signals while patrolling the West Philippine Sea.
“CCG vessels elsewhere in the South China Sea often do not broadcast AIS or do so only when entering and leaving port. But those patrolling Luconia Shoals, Second Thomas Shoal, and to a lesser degree, Scarborough Shoal appear to broadcast far more frequently,” the report read. (PNA)