By Mario Casayuran
No matter the many versions of what happened the Chinese embassy issues, the indubitable fact remains: Filipino fishermen were left stranded at sea and could have died if not for the rescue of Vietnamese fishermen.
Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan issued this statement as he felt disappointed that Malacanang is leaning towards the Chinese government’s position that the ramming by a bigger Chinese vessel of a smaller Filipino fishing boat and leaving 22 Filipino fishermen to the elements as their boat started to sink was a mere ‘’maritime incident.’’
‘’Sino na ang aasahan na magtatanggol sa maliliit at mahihirap nating mga kababayan kung ang namumuno mismo ay kampi sa kabila? Gobyerno ba natin itong naririnig ko o mga kinatawan at ahente ng China?.’’ he asked. (Who should we believe, the captain of the Filipino boat or the other side? Did I hear that statement from the Philippine government or from a Chinese agent?)
‘’People, especially neighbors, do not need to be friends to feel compassion and empathy after seeing a group of fishermen helplessly swimming for their life after encountering what the Chinese called an ‘accident,’’ he stressed.
‘’The Chinese government claims they have been in talks with Philippine officials several times, yet, the issue appears not to move forward as it continues to deny responsibility for the near-death experience of the Filipino fishermen. Sadly, we could not sense even a modicum of good faith from the Chinese,’’ he added.