Press Release
June 30, 2020

Hontiveros urges Gov't not to downplay Mindoro coast collision

"Are we going to let another Chinese vessel get away with committing a "hit and run" against Filipinos inside our territorial waters?"

This was the question posed by Senator Risa Hontiveros Hontiveros on Tuesday as she urged the Philippine government not to downplay the maritime collision between a Philippine fishing boat and the Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Occidental Mindoro yesterday.

"Pumanig naman tayo sa sarili nating mga mangingisda," Hontiveros said after Malacañan's assertion that the crash with 14 Filipinos still missing is 'banggaan lang.' The government also said that the said incident will be resolved under PH maritime laws as it happened within Philippine territorial waters.

"Fourteen of our Filipino fishermen are missing. Our priority should be to find them, fully investigate, and not to further protect China's interests," Hontiveros also said. "We shouldn't soft-pedal these incidents when we know this is not the first time that Chinese vessels have put Filipinos in danger," she added, referring to the sinking of Philippine fishing boat F/B Gem-Ver 1 by a Chinese vessel in June last year.

The Senator also urged the Philippine Coast Guard 'to leave no water or land unchecked in their search, rescue, and investigation.' "I appeal to the government to commit that we will be able to return these Filipino fishermen to their families as soon as possible," she said.

Hontiveros also said that the government should demand justice from China since the "hit and run" act of the Chinese ship, like the Gem-Ver 1 incident, is in stark violation of international law. "The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and other similar treaties clearly mandate that after a collision, ships must render assistance to the other ship and its crew and passengers. Ang nangyari, binangga na nga ang mga kababayan natin, ay walang awa pa silang iniwan sa dagat."

The senator said that the government should also make China accountable for its continuing abuses, including the building of illegal "stations" in the West Philippine Sea, particularly at the Zamora and Kagitingan Reefs, in the middle of the pandemic. The destruction that China has wrought on the Philippines' reef ecosystems has amounted to P200 billion worth of damages.

"Unahin nating protektahan ang kaligtasan ng ating mga mangingisda at ng mga Pilipino kesa sa feelings ng China," Hontiveros concluded.

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