Robredo slams PH boat sinking as Duterte stays silent

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo voiced her "deepest outrage" on Sunday, June 16, over the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese ship, as the usually outspoken President Rodrigo Duterte chooses to stay silent.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the irresponsible actions of the Chinese crew involved in the incident, and express our most profound disappointment at the refusal of the Chinese government to acknowledge the culpability of those responsible for sinking the Philippine fishing vessel and abandoning its crew," Robredo said.

"Those involved must be made accountable in accordance with the pertinent international treaties and Philippine laws," she added.

The Vice President issued this statement a week after the Chinese ship Yuemaobinyu 42212 rammed, sank, and abandoned the distressed fishermen of F/B Gem-Ver in Recto Bank on June 9. Found in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Recto Bank (Reed Bank) is coveted by China but belongs to the Philippines based on a 2016 international ruling. 

Despite having delivered at least 3 speeches last week, Duterte has not spoken up about this boat sinking incident. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said Duterte has not made a statement supposedly because the President is still studying the issue

Robredo said the problem lies in the Duterte administration's "less assertive policy in enforcing our rights" in the West Philippine Sea, which had been upheld by a Hague tribunal in 2016.

"As our own history has repeatedly taught us, abuse, left unchallenged, will only encourage further abuse, giving rise to impunity," said Robredo.

The Vice President added: "It is still not too late. Now is the time for a shift in policy, from being passive to being more courageous in asserting our rights. From bowing our heads in subservience, to holding our heads up high as a free and independent people."

"This is the time where our patriotism, Filipino pride, and love of country should come to the fore. This is the time where we expect our leaders to be true to their oath and speak, act, and do what is needed to defend the dignity of our nation, and every Filipino," Robredo said. – Rappler.com

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