MANILA - The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will lead further investigations into the ramming of a Filipino boat by a Chinese ship in the West Philippine Sea, a Cabinet official said Monday.
The incident was tackled in a Cabinet cluster meeting on Monday afternoon, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.
During the meeting, it was agreed that Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol would head the government response in assisting the 22 Filipino fishermen who were saved from the sinking boat.
"Sec. Piñol has been directed to tap all available government resources––including assistance from DA (Department of Agriculture) and DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development)––to assist our countrymen, with components of the support package to come from other government agencies," Nograles said.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who is also the Cabinet head for the regional development of the Southwestern Tagalog region meanwhile is appointed as co-head.
Twenty-two Filipino fishermen were left at sea by the Chinese crew after sinking their FB GEM-VER boat, only to be rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.
Beijing, through its embassy in Manila, meanwhile denied that its men abandoned the Filipino fishermen, saying the captain of the Chinese ship tried to save them but was "afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats."
The Philippines last week had already filed a "strongly-worded" diplomatic protest, according to Nograles, as an initial action on the incident.
Initial inquiries have also been conducted by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and Cusi
"to determine the extent of the liabilities involved and in order to ascertain the most effective legal means to obtain justice for our countrymen."
Malacañang on Monday said the Philippine government would wait for the results of its own investigation as well as that of China's before making any decision.