By Jeffrey Damicog
The Philippine and Chinese governments should conduct a joint inquiry over the sinking of a Filipino fishing vessel in Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, said Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra Thursday.
“I’m hoping this could be done jointly with the Chinese side para (so that) whatever facts will be established will be mutually acceptable,” Guevarra told reporters.
Guevarra disclosed he already raised this during a recent Cabinet cluster meeting in Malacañang regarding the incident.
“During the cluster meeting I suggested that,” he said.
The Secretary expressed concerns that the findings based on the inquiry conducted by Philippine authorities won’t be accepted by China.
“Baka mamaya yung findings hindi acceptable to the other side (The findings might not be acceptable to the other side). They might have a different version. Kaya nga suggestion ko (That’s why I suggested) might as well do it jointly,” said Guevarra.
Should there still be disagreement in the joint inquiry, Guevarra believes a neutral third party could join in.
In the meantime, Guevarra will leave it up to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) “to bring up to the attention of the Chinese side if they would prefer to conduct a joint inquiry with the Philippine side.”
“We cannot insist kung ayaw nila ng joint inquiry (if they don’t want a joint inquiry). Then we will do our own,” the Secretary said.
Guevarra has assured that the DOJ is ready to take “any possible legal action” against those responsible for the sinking of the Filipino fishing vessel and left behind its 22 crew. A Chinese fishing vessel has been tagged as responsible for the incident.
At the moment, Philippine authorities including the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry are already conducting probes into the incident.
“The DOJ will be awaiting the findings of the marine inquiry,” Guevarra said.