Hong Kong vessel tagged in sea 'collision'-A A +A
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
MANILA (Updated 10:54 a.m.) -- The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported on Monday that a Hong Kong-registered bulk vessel may have crashed into a Filipino-manned fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea, after initially tagging China in the incident.
The country's coast guard said Hong Kong vessel MV Peach Mountain was passing by the area off Bolinao in Pangasinan last June 20 when it accidentally hit the Philippine fishing boat, "with some of the fishermen falling overboard."
The incident led to the death of a fisherman, with four others still missing.
PCG spokesman Arman Balilo said three of the survivors in the collision incident admitted seeing the words "Hong Kong" on the vessel that rammed their boat. But Balilo said they have yet to investigate it, adding they will be asking for information from Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore.
After tagging a Chinese vessel in the incident, Chinese embassy spokesman Zhang Hua said media reports on the alleged “accidental bumping” of boats have yet to be verified by Chinese authorities.
“We wonder what that news story was based upon. We hope relevant persons can verify the facts with a responsible attitude before they report,” said Zhang.
In a report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), it said the fishermen's boat “Axl John” was damaged after being bumped by a Chinese vessel while anchored on an artificial fish shelter.
The collision caused the eventual death of a Filipino fisherman identified as Christopher Carbonell, 32, of Bolinao, Pangasinan.
Three others were rescued, while four fishermen who were identified as Fred Celino, Arnold Garcia, Domy de los Santos and Amante Resonable remained missing.
The three rescued fishermen, Edimio Balmores, Herman Balmores and Celino Damian, are currently confined at Gabriela Silang General Hospital in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.
Members of the House of Representatives, meanwhile, called for restraint while Philippine authorities conduct a deeper probe into the incident.
House Assistant Majority Leader and Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles said it is premature for the Philippine government to make a conclusion on what really happened to the fishermen.
President Benigno Aquino III also refused to blame China on the incident, saying he is still waiting for the result of the investigation.
“There is an investigation, determination of cause, determination of who is at fault. Then after all of this investigation, then that tells us where we will proceed,” Aquino said.
“So now, let us not pinpoint to anyone while there is no sufficient evidence,” he added.
Aquino assured on Monday necessary assistance to the victims of the reported collision and vowed justice for them.
“If there was a ramming incident and you left the fishermen in the middle of the sea -- that is in clear violation of the laws governing the seas. That is actionable. We can go to the appropriate fora to file the necessary charges for justice for our fishermen,” Aquino said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)