PAMALAKAYA demands justice for Filipino fishers a year after the Recto Bank hit-and-run incident
Manila, Philippines — Exactly one year after the hit-and-run incident in Recto Bank in the Spratly Islands, a group of small fisherfolks demands justice for all the Filipino fishers affected by the Chinese occupation of the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement, the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) recalled how the anchored F/B GEM-VER1, a fishing vessel aboard 22 Filipino fishermen was rammed, sank, and abandoned by a Chinese vessel on the midnight of June 9 last year. The 22 fishermen, who hail from San Jose, Mindoro Occidental, were left floating for hours in the middle of the sea until Vietnamese fishermen came to their rescue.
“Exactly a year after a Chinese vessel endangered the lives of our fishermen, not even a single perpetrator has been held to account. The socio-economic lives of the 22 affected fishermen didn’t return to normal since then. Worst, China is still present in our territorial waters triggering fear and intimidation among the Filipino fishers,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
After the owner spent around P2 million for the repair of the wrecked fishing boat, it returned to fishing expedition in Recto Bank with different skipper on November, but only to suffer its final demise when typhoon Ursula hit the island on December.
Calling it a “betrayal to Filipino fisherfolk and treason to the national sovereignty”, PAMALAKAYA said the Duterte government must be held accountable for “compromising the country’s marine territory to China in exchange for foreign loans and investments”.
“Even in a global pandemic, China does not cease and desist from its territorial aggression. It has constructed research stations in Kagitingan and Zamora reefs, and has announced that it would be setting up two administrative districts in the South China Sea. And amid all of these, the Duterte government remains mum which is tantamount to desertion of duty to uphold our sovereign rights,” Hicap added.
For its part, the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) said that “China’s continued illegal activities in the West Philippine Sea endangers the country’s food security and marine environment”.
“President Duterte’s silence on Chinese aggression of our waters is a criminal neglect and treason to the national sovereignty and patrimony. It failed to protect the Filipino fisherfolk against Chinese harassment and bullying of Filipino fisherfolks. We can’t still fish in peace in the West Philippine Sea. Our safety and security in the traditional fishing grounds have been undermined, as the Duterte government adopted the surrender policy to the aggressors,” ended Hicap. ###