June 23, 2019

We are disheartened by the lack of haste in the side of our government to investigate the matter of the sinking of the fishing vessel in Recto Bank. Lives of 22 of our fishermen have been threatened as they were left clinging to debris, hundreds of thousands of their earnings lost, in what our leaders have been calling just a “little maritime incident.”

The lives and livelihood of our fishermen, marginalized and poorest of the poor, will never be a little incident to us. That’s why we believe that a joint investigation between Philippines and China is disadvantageous to our national interests. It will never be a fair investigation when one is the oppressed and the other is the oppressor. When one is the victim and the other is the perpetrator.

A joint investigation is against our fisheries code. Our fisheries code mandates the government to safeguard the safety of our fishery and aquatic resources and to prosecute local and foreign violators. Part also of the government’s mandate is to address foreign illegal entrants in our waters.

The Recto Bank incident is already a shoe-in to these provisions.

It also impacts our territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea. It was already ruled as ours at The Hague in 2016. It weakens our position and can be raised as an act of abandonment of our claim.

We have so far only heard statements after statements from our officials, some even conflicting, yet we are yet to see an actual investigation push through. Not having a firm stand on this issue would set an unfortunate precedent in future cases when our fishermen might face the same risks in our own waters.

Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang joint investigation. Kung na-hit and run ang kamag-anak natin, hindi ba’t magiging katawa-tawa kung kasama sa mag-iimbestiga ang kakampi ng mga mismong nakabangga?

We urge the government to hasten our own investigation efforts. Uphold the Fisheries Code. Defend our sovereign rights and territorial sovereignty. No to a joint investigation.