Sotto: Philippine boat not sunk by Chinese vessel

Inquirer.net June 24,2019 - 03:39 PM

A closer look at the damaged fantail of the Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver 1. (Philippine Navy photo)

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III believes that the Philippine fishing boat “was not sunk” by a Chinese vessel.

On Monday, Sotto shared a Coast Guard expert’s opinion on the June 9 incident where the Chinese vessel reportedly hit the Philippine fishing boat near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

“There is no way we can verify whether the mast light was lighted or not. This is a small fishing boat and normally they don’t display it especially in areas where there is no maritime traffic,” Sotto quoted the expert as saying.

“The FB (fishing boat) was hit slightly on the astern (rear part) and intentional ramming would be thru the side.”

“Also, it was the boom of the Chinese boat that hit the mast of the Filipino FB which could mean that the Chinese only saw the FB when it was near and tried to do a hard left or hard right with its engines on full astern thus the damage is minimal,” the expert added.

Sotto said the “critical” issue on this incident was whether or not the masthead light of the Philippine boat was on or not.

If the light was on, then the collision was deliberate. But if not, then Sotto said it could be accidental.

“I concluded SINKING sa query para madiin but apparently there was no sinking,” the Senate leader said in a Viber message with reporters.

Asked to clarify if it was his belief that the Philippine boat did not sink, Sotto said: “Yes. It was not sunk.”

And he based his conclusion on the “physical appearance of the boat.”

Sotto earlier called for a “full-blown” investigation of the incident and expressed support for a joint maritime probe with China.

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TAGS: 22 Filipino fishermen, boat, China vessel, Chinese, not, Philippine, Recto Bank, Sotto, sunk, vessel

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