Boat sunk by Chinese ship in West PH Sea now back home
MANILA, Philippines – The sunken and abandoned F/B Gem-Ver is finally docked at its home port in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.
The boat, which has been the focal point of the latest tension between the Philippines and China, was brought back at around 3 am on Saturday, June 15, towed by its sister boat Gem-Ver 2.
It first sailed out on May 29, with its crew planning to fish for at least 15 days. After a traumatic experience with a Chinese fishing vessel on June 9 that almost saw its crew's death, FB Gem-Ver docked back at the shore of Barangay San Roque.
What happened to it? FB Gem-Ver and its crew were sunk on June 9 by a Chinese fishing ship near Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea. The Chinese vessel then approached them, flashed its “super lights” then sped away, abandoning the 22-man Filipino crew.
They were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel before being turned over to the Philippine Navy’s BRP Ramon Alcaraz, where they stayed until Friday, June 14. All the men arrived on Friday, after the crew’s machine man stayed with FB Gem-Ver and its sister vessel. A day after, they followed.
The couple Felix and Fe dela Torre have owned FB Gem-Ver since 2016; other families rely on the boat for their livelihood.
Why does it matter? The wreckage of FB Gem-Ver will prove to be critical in what has evolved into a battle on the narrative of the sinking incident.
While Philippine officials have insisted on a probe before accusing any Chinese of wrongdoing over the incident, China has been quick to claim that its fishing vessel did not attack, but had instead tried to save the sinking fishermen. In a statement Friday evening, June 14, the Chinese embassy claimed the Chinese vessel was "besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats," preventing it from rescuing the Filipino fishermen.
China's claims denied: The captain of FB Gem-Ver has belied China’s claims, saying that it was only them and the Chinese boat in that particular area of Recto Bank at midnight of June 9.
"Kami-kami lang ang nandoon. Kami-kami lang. Wala namang ibang bangka doon. Kami lang doon. Kami lang dahil noong gabing 'yun [lumubog] nga kami, kami pa ang aatake?" Junel Insigne told Rappler in an interview at the Philippine Coast Guard Headquarters in San Jose on Friday evening.
(We were the only ones there. We were the only ones. There were no other boats there. It was only us. It was only us because that night, we sank, so how could we also attack?)
Recto Bank is an underwater reef formation that is said to contain huge reserves of oil and natural gas in the West Philippine Sea. While coveted by China, Recto Bank belongs to the Philippines. (READ: Recto Bank: Why China covets what belongs to the Philippines) – Rappler.com
Read stories related to the incident:
- Chinese vessel sinks Philippine boat in West PH Sea ‘collision’
- Sinking of Filipino vessel ‘a first’ in Philippines-China row
- TIMELINE: Skirmishes, standoffs, harassment in West Philippine Sea
- Hold China accountable, Del Rosario says after sinking of PH boat
- AFP: Chinese vessel's sinking of PH boat ‘far from accidental’
- Panelo says possible for PH to cut ties with China over boat sinking
- Locsin hits ‘collision’ of Philippine, Chinese vessels
- Locsin on PH boat sinking: 'Fuck the international community'
- Philippines asks China to sanction Chinese crew of vessel in collision
- LOOK: Philippine fishing boat sunk by Chinese vessel in West PH Sea
- ‘Not a friend’: Netizens hit China over sinking of Philippine boat
- Owner of PH boat sunk by Chinese ship: 'I only ask for justice'
- Lorenzana now unsure if Chinese vessel sank Philippine boat
- China calls sinking of Philippine boat an 'ordinary maritime accident'
- WATCH: How alleged Chinese ship sank Filipino fishing vessel in West PH Sea
- 3 speeches in a row, Duterte silent on Chinese ship sinking PH vessel
- China envoy vows probe into Philippine boat sinking
- WATCH: Crew of Philippine vessel rammed by Chinese ship on their way home
- Occidental Mindoro town mayor to Duterte: Let's speak out against China
- Navy rebuffs China: PH boat sinking ‘not normal accident’
- Lacson, De Lima call for punitive action vs China and its fishermen
- Wives wait in limbo for fishermen of sunken vessel to come home
- Captain of abandoned PH boat: I'm sure Chinese ship sank us
- Recto Bank: Why China covets what belongs to the Philippines
- Crew of sunken Philippine boat now home
- Arroyo defends Duterte response to Philippine boat sinking
- INSIDE STORY: How Filipino crew were saved by Vietnamese in West PH Sea
- China claims ship 'besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino boats'
- U.S. hits intimidation at sea after Philippine boat sinking
- Captain of abandoned PH boat: 'Lumubog nga kami, kami pa ang aatake?'
- Demand compensation from China for PH boat sinking – Carpio
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