The social media has been teeming with conspiracy theories as to what really happened on the night of June 9 to F/B GEM-VER 1, the Philippine fishing vessel rammed and “sunk” by the Chinese trawling boat.
The confusing statements from the fishermen crew of F/B GEM-VER 1 and the sensationalized reporting of local media did not help at all in giving the public a clear picture of the incident.
On this note, Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol has taken to Facebook to set the record straight as to what really happened to the fishing boat rammed and “sunk” by the Chinese trawling boat.
You may start reading DA Sec. Manny Piñol full FB post now.
Setting records straight!
YES, F/B GEM-VER 1 SANK;
RESCUERS REFLOATED BOAT
In the thick of the controversy which followed the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat from San Jose, Occidental Mindoro in the Recto Bank, different versions of the story came out in the media.
While the Department of Agriculture, under which the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources belongs, defers to other competent agencies on the security and diplomatic issues involved in the incident, the DA would like to correct insinuations that the Filipino fishermen lied about their narratives.
The DA has already submitted an official report to President Rody Duterte, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
For purposes of transparency and clarity, the DA addresses and provides answers to some questions raised based on data gathered.
1. Was it really a Chinese vessel which hit F/B GEN-VER 1?
Answer: The captain and crew of the fishing boat stated from the very beginning that they were hit by a Chinese boat. The Chinese initially said it was not certain but later on admitted that the vessel involved in the “ramming” or collision incident was indeed a Chinese boat.
Whether it was an accidental collision or intentional ramming is an issue that is better resolved through the conduct of a maritime investigation.
2. Did F/B GEN-VER 1 really sink after the collision? This was a question raised because the vessel was able to sail back to San Jose aided by the Philippine Navy and at least two other fishing boats.
Answer: Yes, the captain and the crew said they had to jump into the water because their boat sank. A photo gathered by BFAR Director Elizer Salilig showed a sunken F/B GEN-VER 1 with its bow jutting out of the water. Rescuers later refloated the boat and repaired its damaged tailfin.
3. If F/B GEN-VER 1 sank, why were the fishermen able to bring home their catch? (Additional explanation because this was raised by a follower of this page.)
Answer: Typical Filipino fishing boats have fish holds in the middle portion of the vessel which is filled with ice blocks. That is where they keep the fish for days, even weeks, before sailing back to shore. I personally saw these fish holds in the fishing boats in Infanta, Quezon. It is far from the stern and was not damaged by the impact, apparently.
4. Were any of the crew members hurt?
Answer: No. All of them have returned to their families after they were given assistance by DA-BFAR. They also asked for help to avail of the fishing boats grant under President Duterte’s F/B Pagbabago Program where poor fishing families are provided with boats and fishing gears.
The DA-BFAR will schedule the distribution of the fishing boats very soon.
The DA-BFAR hopes that this statement will clarify all issues.