Press Release
June 15, 2019


*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on the Chinese government's claim that there was no "hit and run," Chinese vessel "besieged" by Filipino fishing boats

The Chinese government's response to the West Philippine Sea hit-and-run incident, through its embassy here in Manila, is preposterous. It is a flimsy attempt at a cover-up to shield the involved Chinese crew from any accountability and shift the blame and responsibility to our distressed fisherfolk.

The claim that the Chinese vessel "accidentally" hit and sank our ship because it was "suddenly besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats" is ridiculous. Equally incredible is the excuse that the Chinese vessel failed to rescue our fishermen because it was "afraid of being besieged" by our boats.

First, it is the Chinese vessels which regularly trespass our territories which have a long record of harassing our fisherfolk in the region. This is well documented and even part of a recent case filed before the International Criminal Court. In fact, Chinese ships have been ramming, firing water cannons at and sinking Vietnamese vessels in the Paracels for several years now.

Second, if there were 7 to 8 Filipino fishing boats in the area, why were our fishermen rescued by the Vietnamese? Why would our fishermen wait for several hours, exposed to the mercy of the elements, before they were saved from danger?

It is becoming clear that we cannot rely on the Chinese government to conduct an objective investigation on this matter and hold accountable all those responsible for this awful incident. Despite the efforts of our foreign affairs officials, it appears that the Chinese government is sweeping this under the carpet.

I call on President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately downgrade our ties with China, as expressed through the immediate recall of our diplomats stationed in the country. The downgrading of ties will upgrade our position in finding justice for our aggrieved fisherfolk and in defending our sovereignty.

Lastly, I call on President Duterte to break his silence on this serious issue. While it is correct that he can speak through his alter egos, nothing is more reassuring to the public than to see and hear their own President, the supposed architect of the country's foreign policy, telling them that he is on top of the situation. After all, if the President can make public statements on the most mundane things, he can certainly do the same on this extremely important matter.

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