Owner of sunken boat: I feel like we’re slaves of China

Rambo Talabong

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Owner of sunken boat: I feel like we’re slaves of China

LeAnne Jazul

'Parang alipin po tayo ng China. Parang wala tayong karapatan sa sarili nating nasasakupan,' says Felix dela Torre, the owner of the fishing boat sunk and abandoned by a Chinese fishing boat in West Philippine Sea

OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, Philippines – Felix dela Torre fought back tears as he shared how much he had lost in the sinking of his fishing boat F/B Gem-Ver, which was rammed then abandoned by a Chinese fishing ship on June 9.

Parang alipin po tayo ng China. Parang wala tayong karapatan sa sarili nating nasasakupan (It’s like we are slaves of China. It’s like we have no rights over our own territory),” Dela Torre told reporters in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

Dela Torre shared that Gem-Ver was a boat that was passed on to him by his parents in 2011. It’s not much, he said, but it was everything for his family and the families of all its 22 crewmen. (READ: Owner of PH boat sunk by Chinese ship: ‘I only ask for justice’)

Malaking kawalan po, dahil ito lang po yung hanapbuhay po namin. Sa amin, sa akin lang po umaasa, kasi ang turing po namin, pamilya na (It’s a big loss for us because it’s our source of livelihood. They only rely on us, on me, because we treat each other as family),” Dela Torre added.

The ramming of the Chinese fishing vessel left a hole at the rear of the boat, causing water to gush in. The crewmen were able to save themselves, but the boat’s engine had also been damaged. They lost their catch which they hauled after spending nearly a week in the open seas.  That haul could have been sold to cover a month’s expenses for each crew member.

Like his crewmen, Dela Torre called China’s claim that they attacked instead as a farce. He said he spoke with all his men and they said the same thing. (READ: Captain of abandoned PH boat: I’m sure Chinese ship sank us)

Nagsisinungaling po ang China (China is lying),” he said – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.