Sea collision ‘not related to territorial row’-A A +A
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- The collision between a Filipino fishing boat and a reported Hong Kong-registered vessel off Pangasinan has nothing to do with the standoff over the disputed Scarborough (Panatag) shoal, Malacanang said.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said authorities considered the mishap as an ordinary maritime incident and they have yet to establish whether it was intentional.
He said the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Philippine Navy are conducting investigation to determine the vessel that rammed a Philippine boat where one Filipino fisherman died while four others remain missing.
"I spoke to (OCD) Secretary Voltz Gazmin and based on the investigation, the vessel…apparently has a mark of Hong Kong. The Philippine Navy conducted an assessment and also based on the route and the speed by which the vessel was plying that route, it appears it is not Peach Mountain that rammed the vessel -- that hit those fishermen," he said.
Lacierda said authorities limit their investigation into registered Hong Kong vessels only since the fishermen said the vessel has a Hong Kong marking.
"It is another Hong Kong-registered vessel and we're still looking at it and there’s a continuing investigation...the Philippine Navy is plotting the route, plotting the speed and what vessel was there at that point," he added.
The Palace official said authorities are also checking the vessel's permit to ply in the country's municipal waters.
He also said authorities will ask shipping operators to cooperate with their investigation.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier refused to pinpoint China as the culprit of the boat mishap, saying he has to wait until the investigation is completed.
The President, however, assured that justice will be served to the victims of the incident.
Lacierda said the government is still seeking the help of marine and legal experts with regard to possible charges to be filed against those responsible for the incident.
He, meanwhile, assured that the victims of the mishap are being properly assisted by the local government of Bolinao, Pangasinan, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Lacierda, in a press briefing, said P5,000 financial assistance and food packs were given to each of the families of the three survivors and the four missing fishermen.
The lone casualty, Christopher Carbonel, received P10,000 in burial assistance and food packs for his family, Lacierda said.
The three survivors are Herman Balmores, 51; Marcelino Damian, 32; and Edimio Balmores Jr., 40, while the missing are Dommy de los Santos, Amante Rasonable, Arnold Garcia, and Fred Celino.
Lacierda said Bolinao Mayor Alfonzo Celeste assured he will facilitate the interment of Carbonel at the town's cemetery on June 27.
"Based on the discussions with Mayor Celeste, livelihood assistance shall be provided to the affected families. The mayor also requested to look into the cases of other affected families of missing fishermen in the island barangay of Dewey," he added.
The Palace official said initial psychosocial support was also provided by the DSWD staff to the rescued fishermen and to the families of the missing at the Office of the Mayor to relieve them of the effects of the traumatic experience.
"There will be a follow-up stress debriefing for them and we continue to provide assistance to these fishermen," he added.
Lacierda said there is a continuing search and rescue operation for the four missing fishermen. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)