Team probes abandonment of Filipino fishermen-A A +A
Thursday, June 28, 2012
AUTHORITIES are conducting a joint investigation to determine whether the Filipino fishermen who figured in a maritime accident with a Hong Kong-registered vessel were abandoned off the West Philippine Sea.
Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II said there is a maritime convention and protocol that mandates seafarers to provide assistance to any person in distress at sea, regardless of nationality or status.
"We have a protocol especially in the sea that if you found a person in distress, you're supposed to stop and give aid," Roxas said in an interview during the inauguration of Manila International Container Terminal's Berth 6 at Manila Port.
The Transportation official said authorities already ruled out the angle that the boat of the Filipino fishermen was rammed by the supposed Chinese ship but he questioned why the fishermen were left off Bolinao, Pangasinan.
One of fishermen was killed in the accident and four other are missing.
"They met an accident even before the ship passed through them. The fishermen said they were not rammed. But the angle we are looking at is why the vessel did not stop if they saw the distress fishermen," Roxas said.
"I don't want to speculate if what will be their response but clearly, they just passed through our fishermen and the wave from their ship added to the burden of our fishermen," he further said.
Roxas said the joint investigation is being conducted by the Philippine Navy, Department of National Defense, Philippine National Police and the Philippine Coast Guard.
He added that Coast Guard has communicated with the Hong Kong maritime authorities to determine the identity of the said Chinese vessel.
"It is the interest of the entire maritime industry to maintain this convention because the ocean is very vast and the weather is very unpredictable. So all countries want this convention to be efficient that all countries will help each other in the middle of the sea," he stressed.
He said the Philippine government is expecting an objective investigation from the Hong Kong authorities.
Search and rescue operations for the four missing Filipino fishermen are ongoing, while cash and food packs were given to the survivors and the family of the lone fatality.
Roxas, meanwhile, refused to comment on the impending redeployment of ships to the Scarborough (Panatag) shoal deferring the matter to President Benigno Aquino III.
"That will be a decision of the President," he said. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)