Mix of determination, caution as Gem-Ver fishermen ready for Recto Bank return

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 15 2019 01:58 AM

SAN JOSE, Occidental Mindoro—A Filipino fishing boat that figured in an allision with a Chinese ship in the West Philippine Sea in June plans to return to the same area, its crew members said Thursday.

Following months of repair, F/B Gem-Ver is set to sail back to Recto Bank, where its 22 crew members were abandoned in open waters 5 months ago.

Junel Insigne is not part of this new voyage, as Joan Gardones replaced him as the boat's captain.

"May halong kaba pero binabalewala kasi para sa pamilya," Gardones said.

(I'm nervous, but I try not to be for the sake of my family.)

Despite his group's ordeal, former crew member Escoterio Cerillo said he wants to return to sea.

"Alaala na lang, pero sabi ko sana huwag nang maulit," he said.

(What happened in June is just a memory, but hopefully it won't happen again.)

According to other Filipino fishermen, Chinese ships are still reportedly present at Recto Bank.

But members of the Gem-Ver crew have learned their lesson.

"Huwag magtiwala. Kahit gabi kailangan may lookout. Huwag maging kampante sa paligid," boat owner Felix Dela Torre said.

The shipowner of the Chinese fishing boat has apologized, but said it was accidental.

Beijing's embassy in Manila denied that the Chinese crew abandoned the Filipinos, who were rescued by a Vietnamese ship.

It said the captain of the Chinese ship tried to save them but was "afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats."

—With a report from Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News