Palace: No meeting between Duterte, Filipino fishermen about China 'hit and run'

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 17 2019 01:52 PM

The 22 Filipino fishermen of FB GEM-VER which sank June 9 after a "collision" with a Chinese vessel, June 14, 2019. Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Malacañang denied Monday a supposed scheduled meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and fishermen of the boat that was rammed by a Chinese ship in the West Philippine Sea.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said he is unaware of any meeting.

“As far as I know, wala akong narinig na request [for a meeting] at wala rin nag-imbita,” he said during a Palace briefing.

( As far as I know, there is no request and no one sent an invitation too.)

FB GEM-VER boat captain Junel Insigne said Sunday he was supposed to go to Manila and tell Duterte how the Chinese trawler rammed their boat in the wee hours.

Insigne, along with 21 other Filipino fishermen, were abandoned by a Chinese crew and left at sea only to be rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.

The Chinese embassy in Manila downplayed the incident, saying the crew of trawler Yuemaobinyu 42212 "bumped into" the Philippine boat and then left due to safety fears.

"The Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fisherman, but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats," the statement said.

It went on to say the incident was not a "hit and run," as some Philippine authorities had claimed, because the trawler "confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued."

A special Cabinet meeting was supposed to be held on Monday to discuss the West Philippine Sea incident, but the meeting was canceled by the President, according to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Panelo on Monday also denied that a special Cabinet meeting was scheduled specifically to discuss the Recto Bank incident.