Lacson nixes 3rd party inquiry on Recto Bank incident

MANILA Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday opposed Vice President Leni Robredo's proposal for a third-party investigation on the Recto Bank (Reed Bank) incident involving a Filipino fishing boat and a Chinese vessel.

Lacson said it is within the country's sovereign rights to perform its official function and conduct a probe on the incident which happened in the Philippine waters.

He cited the 2016 Hague ruling which expressly states that Recto Bank is part of the Philippines' 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

"Recto Bank is within our EEZ as expressly stated in the 2016 arbitral ruling. Having said that, we should conduct our investigation, with or without the Chinese government's cooperation which we should try our best to enlist and solicit, giving utmost regard to due process," Lacson said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the offer of the Chinese government for a joint investigation on the June 9 incident, in which F/B GEM-VER from Occidental Mindoro was allegedly rammed and abandoned by a Chinese vessel.

In a statement, Panelo said the President wanted to know what really transpired to find a satisfactory closure to this episode.

Robredo said she is "not confident" about the planned joint investigation with China, and instead pushed for a "multilateral" probe involving other parties.

The incident left the Filipino boat's 22 crew members floundering in the water for several hours until they were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat.

During the just-concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, President Rodrigo Duterte took the opportunity to thank the captain and crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel for saving the Filipino fishermen.

"President Duterte took the occasion to thank the captain and crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel who saved our fishermen near Recto Bank, stating that this act of kindness and compassion will always be remembered by the Philippines and its people," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Sunday.

The 22 fishermen have already received government assistance that includes PHP25,000 loan each to help them recover from their losses.

They also received 11 30-foot fiberglass fishing boats with engines and nets from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR); one sack of rice each from Department of Agriculture; PHP10,000 each and food packs from Department of Social Welfare and Development; and PHP10,000 from Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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