MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s silence on the sinking of a Philippine boat by a Chinese vessel, saying he is waiting for “all the facts,” including the investigation of the Chinese government, before acting.
This indicates Malacañang’s openness to China’s claim denying that a Chinese vessel intentionally rammed, sank, and abandoned Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver in Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Chinese embassy had claimed the Chinese vessel was in fact “besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats,” preventing it from rescuing the Filipino fishermen from their sunken boat.
“Tingnan natin kung totoo ang contrary claim nila (Let’s see if their contrary claim is correct),” Panelo said.
He claimed Malacañang is “not doubting” the account of the Filipino fishermen, “but we want to know the facts, since there is a contrary claim.”
On Duterte’s silence, Panelo said, “As a lawyer, abogado ito, kaming mga abogado (he is a lawyer, we lawyers), we wait for the facts to come in, all the facts.”
“Let the facts set in and the President will respond to the same,” Duterte’s spokesman added.
At the same time, Panelo on Monday, June 17, refuted Gem-Ver’s owner, who said it feels like Filipinos “are slaves of China” who have no rights over their own waters.
“Baka it’s a rhetorical question. Siyempre the response is we can never be slaves to anyone,” Panelo said in a media briefing on Monday.
(Perhaps it’s a rhetorical question. Of course the response is we can never be slaves to anyone.)
When asked if the Philippines is a slave to China specifically, Panelo responded, “Not to anyone nga eh (as I said). That includes every country in the world.” – Rappler.com
Read stories related to the incident:
- TIMELINE: Skirmishes, standoffs, harassment in West Philippine Sea
- LOOK: Philippine fishing boat sunk by Chinese vessel in West PH Sea
- Recto Bank: Why China covets what belongs to the Philippines
- ‘Not a friend’: Netizens hit China over sinking of Philippine boat
- WATCH: How alleged Chinese ship sank Filipino fishing vessel in West PH Sea
- INSIDE STORY: How Filipino crew were saved by Vietnamese in West PH Sea
- LOOK: Philippine boat sinking after Chinese ship’s assault
- IN PHOTOS: Aboard the Philippine boat sunk by a Chinese ship
- Owner of sunken boat: I feel like we’re slaves of China
- 3 speeches in a row, Duterte silent on Chinese ship sinking PH vessel
- Occidental Mindoro town mayor to Duterte: Let’s speak out against China
- Demand compensation from China for PH boat sinking – Carpio
- China ship’s assault sparks fear in Occidental Mindoro fishing community