By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said it will be sure to prosecute the crew of the Chinese vessel involved in the Recto Bank incident if it is proven that they are fishing in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement as the Philippines and China move to resolve the incident where 22 Filipino fishermen were abandoned at sea by the Chinese vessel that hit their anchored boat last June 9.
In his Thursday press briefing, Panelo said that the Philippine government will hold the Chinese crew accountable if they are found guilty of violating the country’s Fisheries Code.
“We will prosecute. Aba kung nakita natin na talagang ginawa nila na lumabag, oh eh ‘di (If we find that they really violated our laws, then we will),” he said.
“Now, if there is a violation of our law, then they should be held accountable,” he added.
According to Panelo, the public should wait for the results of the investigation on the incident before they judge the government.
“Siguro ‘pag meron ng findings at wala tayong ginawa, iyan (Perhaps if the findings are out and we did not do anything, then), you can pounce on this government. Eh kung wala pa ngang nangyayari, nagco-conjecture lang tayo. Hintayin na natin (But nothing has happened yet, it’s just conjunctures. So let’s wait),” he said.
“Basta ang policy ni Presidente (The President’s policy is), he will enforce the law,” he added.
“May colatilla naman siya. Pagdating doon sa Reed Bank, eh ang feeling niya, hindi sila magva-violate kasi nga, sabi niya (He has a colatilla anyway. When it come to the Reed Bank, the President feels that China will not violate because, as he said), ‘We’re friends. They will not do that,'” he continued.
Under Section 91 of Republic Act No. 10654 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, it is unlawful for any foreign person, corporation or entity to fish or operate any fishing vessel in Philippine waters.
“The entry of any foreign fishing vessel in Philippine waters shall constitute a prima facie presumption that the vessel is engaged in fishing in Philippine waters,” the law states.