Editorial: Sorry, what?

Editorial Cartoon by Josua Cabrera

THIS much is clear. It is not the Chinese Government that is apologizing to the Philippine Government on the Recto Bank incident. It is a fisherman’s organization, the Guangdong Fishery Mutual Insurance Association, specifically it’s president Chen Shiqin, who sent a memorandum to the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affair (DFA). The DFA promptly made it public via a Twitter post.

To recall, last June 9, Chinese trawler Yuemaobinyu 42212 rammed the rear of Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver, leaving 22 fishermen “at the mercy of the sea” at the Recto Bank for some hours until a Vietnamese fishing boat rescued them.

“I deeply regret that this accident had to happen and I would like to express my deep sympathy to the Filipino fishermen. The shipowner of the Chinese fishing boar involved, through our Association, would like to express his sincere apology to the Filipino fishermen,” Chen’s memo read.

The association issued the memorandum just when President Rodrigo Duterte left the country for a working visit to China. The timing it seems is meant to soften critics of the Philippine Government’s response on the ramming incident. Remember how, initially, the President said it was “serious,” and later downplayed it by saying it was just a “very small maritime incident.”

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, upon knowing of the letter of apology, was quick to respond. While he’s glad about the move, it should be matched with proper remuneration.

“Good, I am delighted that he finally apologized. However, ‘yung repair ng nasirang banka at ‘yung lost income ng mga mangingisda dapat niya ring bayaran,” Lorenzana said in a text message to media.

But there is also that part on the ordeal the fishermen had to endure while wading helpless and cold in the ocean. Yes, that, too, was priceless.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin clarified that he did not “accept” the apology and that he merely “noted” the memorandum. He said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo III “merely expressed satisfaction with the Chinese apology.”

These reactions is merely consistent to the whole act of downplaying the Recto Bank incident, which is really, in the scale of things, about China’s incursions into Philippine territory and the Philippine Government’s inept ways in deploying diplomatic options. That protest means going to war against China was government’s instant logic to kill the issue right off.

Locsin said the memorandum is urging Manila to file a “specific appeal for civil compensation based on the actual loss.” That will answer Lorenzana’s concern. But in the end, it still leaves much to be desired.

The supposed patriot of a President, as he loves to portray himself to be, should be more than inspired to talk squarely about the West Philippine Sea with the devil himself.


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