PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, June 24, aplogized to the 22 distressed Filipino fishermen who were deserted by the crew of the Chinese trawler that rammed their boat near Recto (Reed) Bank on June 9.

In a chance interview after his attendance to the premiere night of movie "Kontradiksyon," Duterte issued the apology after Flipino fishermen aboard the sunken boat expressed dismay over the government's supposed negligence to act on the incident.

The President insisted that he could not take a bolder action since the incident was just a "maritime accident."

"Well, I'm sorry but that's how it is," he said.

"So I'm sorry kung iyan ang feeling nila (if that's their feeling). But alam naman nila na (they know that) that area is claimed by both. Para sa kanila sa (For) China, it happened within their jurisdiction. Sa atin (For us), it's within our jurisdiction because we have two conflicting claims," Duterte added.

On June 9, Chinese boat Yuemaobinyu 42212 rammed, sank and abandoned the anchored Filipino fishing vessel F/B Gem--Ver1 near Recto Bank.

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, however, had said that the Chinese boat tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen, but it was "besieged" by seven or eight Filipino vessels.

Duterte said he could not take an aggresive approach against China since the incident was not


He also stressed that a joint investigation by both the Philippines and China would be better to shed light on the issue.

"Little in the sense that it did not result to any confrontation. It was not to belittle everything. There was damage, but luckily, nobody died," he said.

"It is a maritime incident. Little in the sense that there was no confrontation. There was no bloody violence. Eh di kung gusto mong gumanti (If you want to take revenge), that is not a reason to go to any military exercise there. Kapag ginawa mo iyan, giyera mo iyan (If you do that, it's going to be a war)," he added. (SunStar Philippines)