Gov’t must be rational, not emotional on Reed Bank issue: Palace

MANILA - The Philippine government must be rational and not emotional in handling the recent Reed Bank incident, MalacaAang said on Tuesday.

"We understand the sentiments of the Filipino people. As a government, however, it must be rational rather than emotional," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo, also Chief Presidential legal counsel, said "pseudo-nationalists" have politicized and exploited the latest incident to lambast President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

"Attempts to discredit the narrative which initially reached us have been subsequently made, we believe that a fair and impartial investigation is now in order for the government to appreciate the facts of the incident and evaluate its proper course of action on the matter," he said.

Panelo dismissed Senator Joel Villanueva's recent statements where the lawmaker was quoted saying the government is in a state of confusion on handling the issue.

"The Executive's standpoint has been clear and unequivocal: The issue of sovereignty is non-negotiable. Foremost in our mind is to serve and protect the interest of the Filipino people, including the 22 affected fishermen," Panelo said.

"Unless and until the basis of our position has been refuted by contrary evidence, our initial position on the matter stands," he added.

Panelo said Cabinet members simply clarified matters in relation to the issue.

"If after the clarification, the reader cannot still comprehend, then it is his mind which is in a state of confusion as he cannot grasp a simple correction of terminology, or worse he could be intellectually challenged," he said.

Initial reports from the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said "a certain Chinese vessel accidentally collided with a Filipino fishing boat on June 9, 2019 at around 12 midnight" while the F/B GEM-VIR 1 from Occidental Mindoro was anchored near the Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

The collision sank the wooden Filipino fishing boat while the Chinese vessel approached, turned on its lights and then switched them off and left immediately, abandoning the Filipino fishermen at sea.

A Vietnamese vessel rescued the Filipinos several hours after the incident.

Joint investigation

Meanwhile, Panelo said he will suggest that a joint investigation should be done by the Philippines and China on the incident.

"I am tinkering the idea of suggesting that, joint investigation ng dalawang bansa (by the two countries)," said Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday.

Panelo said he is keen on presenting his idea to Duterte.

He said the Philippine government is waiting for the results of the probe made by Philippine authorities as well as the respective results in the separate investigation being conducted by China.

"We will wait for their (China) findings at iyong findings din natin (and our own findings)," he said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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