Fisherfolk group pushes joint PH-Beijing probe on latest incident in Scarborough Shoal

LEADERS of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list on Monday urged diplomatic and foreign affairs officials of the Philippine and Chinese governments to conduct a full-blown investigation on the latest incident in Scarborough Shoal involving a Chinese vessel that rammed a Philippine fishing boat north of the disputed territory.

In a joint press statement, Anakpawis vice-chairperson Fernando Hicap and Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France asked President Benigno Aquino III to initiate a joint probe with Beijing to determine the real score on the incident that killed a Filipino fisherfolk and leaving four others missing when the local fishing boat AXL John was allegedly hit by a Chinese fishing vessel last week.

“Philippine and Chinese officials should sit down in a honest-to-goodness meeting that would determine the truth, deliver justice to Filipino fisherfolk victims and earnestly settle this long-running dispute through diplomatic resolutions,” both leaders said in their joint statement.

Hicap and France lamented that Beijing display of sheer arrogance and the Aquino administration’s provocative statements as scripted by the US government are not heading towards diplomatic resolution of the ongoing conflict in West Philippine Sea.

“It is in the highest interest of the Filipino and the Chinese people to have this incident investigated and resolved. It is also in the highest interest of the Chinese and Filipino people to have this conflict put to an end through diplomatic channels and avoid a possible shooting war between the Philippines and China in West Philippine Sea,” they added.

Pamalakaya said it contemplating to file its own diplomatic protest against Beijing, asserting that China violated the country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity when its fishing vessel rammed the Philippine fishing boat inside Bolinao’s municipal waters.

Executive Director Benito Ramos of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Sunday said the Chinese vessel might have intentionally hit the fishing boat AXL John on Wednesday because the vessel did nothing to help the fishermen when the Chinese boat hit the local vessel.

Bolinao Mayor Alfonso Celeste said Christopher Carbonel, 32, a fisherman from the island village of Dewey in Bolinao, died Sunday morning at Gabriela Silang General Hospital in Vigan City, where he and three other fishermen were taken. The mayor said another fisherman, Herman Balmores, was in critical condition. The two other fishermen in the hospital were Edimio Balmores and Celino Damian.

According to Mayor Celeste, fishermen Fred Celino, Arnold Garcia, Domy de los Santos and Amante Resonable remained missing four days after the Chinese vessel hit their boat, which was anchored at an artificial reef off Bolinao.

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