Impunity favoring China triggers foreign vessels’ hit-and-run vs. fishers in Ph waters – group

Impunity favoring China triggers foreign vessels’ hit-and-run vs. fishers in Ph waters – group

Manila, Philippines — The collision between a Chinese Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship and a Filipino fishing vessel off the waters of Mindoro Occidental yesterday was a “hit-and-run” incident, according to the militant fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), whom earlier condemned the incident.

“It was a crystal clear hit-and-run, as the 14 fishing crew went missing. The Chinese personnel of the ship could have rescued the fishing crew when the fishing vessel capsized, but they didn’t. A clear indication that they intentionally withdrew after the collision,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

PAMALAKAYA blamed this apparent disregard by foreign vessels to the lives and safety of Filipino fisherfolks to the impunity by the Duterte government on a Chinese vessel that was also involved on a similar “hit-and-run” of F/B Gem-ver-1 in Recto Bank that endangered the lives of 22 FIlipino fishermen last year.

The 22 fishermen from last year’s maritime hit-and-run, according to PAMALAKAYA, have yet to be fully compensated for the damages up to date, and no justice has been served.

“Gem/Ver 1 before, now it’s the Liberty 5; but same tragic incident perpetrated by a Chinese vessel that continues to operate and disrespect our fishers in our very own territorial waters. The Duterte government’s continuing inaction against Chinese violation of our fishing rights encourages foreign vessels entering our waters to belittle the safety and welfare of Filipino fishers,” Hicap, a former Anakpawis Party-list solon added.

PAMALAKAYA reiterated its call to hold the Chinese captain and owner of the colliding ship accountable for endangering the lives of Filipino fishing crew.

“The full-force of the law should be applied against this foreign vessel and the government should act fast to rescue the victimized fisherfolks. We have high hopes that our authorities are able to find and get justice for the fishing crew that went missing,” ended Hicap. ###

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