The ramming of an anchored Filipino fishing boat F/B Gem-Ver 1 on June 9 with 22 personnel near Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and leaving them in peril continues to raise the question whether or not the incident was deliberate or accidental.
That the much bigger and powerful Chinese fishing vessel continued its route and deserted the area as if nothing happened even raises a more profound question about the duty to rescue persons in distress at sea.
But, was the destruction of the F/B Gem-Ver 1 really deliberate or was it accidental?
Until an in-depth neutral third party investigation is conducted we will never know the truth about what really happened.
What seems to muddle the initial account of the incident is the way it is being reported by the media. When different observations and conjectures are being added it distorts the truth that it becomes at times incredible whether or not some events, as told, really happened.
Take for instance the statement/description given that after noticing that the Chinese vessel had hit something, that it turned around to verify what it was and found out that it just sunk a fishing boat with people in the sea shouting for help, only to be abandoned.
If this was the case then the Chinese crew members should be categorically condemned for their barbaric and criminal act. But then again, in the same vein, it was reported that they hurriedly left the area afraid that other Filipino fishermen may gang up on them if they linger further. So, which is which now?
With China now forcefully claiming and converting into a military garrison what is rightfully ours in the WPS, while we leave our fate to God, would they still have the brazenness to destroy the livelihood of our fisher folks?
I for one would like to believe that if China can claim the whole of the South China Sea (SCS), of which the WPS is part of it, with impunity and construct sophisticated military bases even inside Philippine territorial waters just so it can control this part of the world, then one could just imagine how insignificant a third world country and the Filipino race is to them. Talking about arrogance, abuse and disrespect despite the altruism the Philippine government has shown them.
But there is really nothing much that can be done about the maritime incident. Unless proven without doubt by a neutral maritime investigative body that it was accidental rather than deliberate, then so be it. Otherwise the incident will always be construed not only that China’s vessel is culpable for deliberately ramming the Filipino fishing vessel, but that falsehood is also being rammed down our throat.
This is the price we are paying for being poor and powerless.