Fisherman, wife dismayed over official's remark that incident may be accidental
MANILA (UPDATE) -- The captain of a Filipino ship sunk by a Chinese vessel in a collision said Sunday that he will meet with President Rodrigo Duterte and demand accountability over the incident that stirred tension in the South China Sea.
The Chinese trawler sailed away after the incident near Reed Bank last that sank the fishing boat June 10, abandoning 22 Filipino crew members who were rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.
"Balak ko pong sabihin kay Presidente, tungkol po sa nangyari sa amin, panagutin po iyong kapitan ng Chinese fishing vessel saka hihingi po ako ng tulong sa pagpapagawa ng bangka," F/B GEMVIR1 Captain Junel Insigne told ABS-CBN News.
(I plan to ask the President to hold the captain of the Chinese fishing vessel accountable for what happened to us. I will also ask for help in fixing the boat.)
Insigne, however, expressed dismay over Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi's remark that the collision may not have been intentional because only the stern of the boat was hit.
"Sa salita ni Secretary, iyung pagbangga raw sa amin padaplis lang. Parang hindi sinadya... Kung sadya raw iyon, dapat sentro, gitna," said the fisherman.
"Bakit parang ganoon po iyung salita ni Secretary sa amin?"
(Secretary Cusi said we were only grazed. It does not appear intentional. If it was intentional, the boat's hull should have been hit. Why is the remark of the Secretary like that?)
Insigne's wife, Lani, also fumed over Cusi's purported remark.
"Nagalit ako kanina... 'Hindi naman pala sentro, sa alon lang kaya iyan nasira.' Kahit bagyo na malalakas, hindi nasisira iyan," she said.
(I got angry a while ago. 'It wasn't hit in the center, it may have been just caused by waves.' Even when there are strong typhoons, the boat is not damaged.)
"Para ba siyang against pa sa mga Pilipino... Sabi ko [sa asawa ko], sabihin mo ang totoo. Hindi sinungaling na tao iyan, kahit hindi nag-aral iyan... Gusto pa pala niya (Cusi) mamatay ang mga tauhan para mapatunayang mabangga talaga," she added.
(It as if he's against Filipinos. I told my husband, tell the truth. He is not a liar, even if he is uneducated. He wants the crew to die just to prove that their boat was really rammed.)
Cusi earlier Sunday visited San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, the hometown of the Filipino fishermen.
The group and the official held a closed-door meeting there, where Insigne was instructed that he will be brought to Manila on Monday.
Speaking to reporters after the closed-door meeting, Cusi, also the Cabinet officer for the regional development of the Southwestern Tagalog region, hinted that the ramming may be accidental.
"As of now kasi sasabihin natin kung babanggain kung sa kwan ba, sasabihin natin 'Napakabulok naman nung babangga, daplis lang,'" he told reporters.
(If we're going to think that they wanted to ram the boat, we could say that "Their plan to hit the boat is weak, they only grazed it.")
He added that if the Chinese meant to harm the Filipino fishermen, "siyempre ididiretso mo na (they would have went straight for it)." were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.
Cusi meanwhile noted that Filipinos can also assume that the ramming was intentional since the FB- GEM-VER was anchored when it happened.
"Pwede natin sabihin sinadya kasi ang laki-laki ng dagat ang lawak-lawak ng dagat," he said.
(We can say it's intentional because the sea is too big and wide.)
Asked how the Philippine government views the ramming of a Filipino boat, Cusi said he would refer to it as an "incident" until the investigation comes to a close.
"It's an incident that we are looking into," he said.
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.