PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte wants the Recto Bank incident to be discussed during bilateral meetings with China, his spokesperson said yesterday.
“The President wanted China’s assurance that the rights and safety of our fisherfolks are guaranteed,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press statement.
Panelo said the issue was discussed during the Cabinet meeting Monday evening.
The Philippines and China have a Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) where they discuss issues relating to the South China Sea.
The fourth BCM meeting conducted in Manila in April was attended by the Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo LB. Montealegre of the Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs and China’s Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou.
On Monday, Panelo said China has rejected third party involvement in the joint investigation into the ramming of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel in waters off Recto Bank on June 9.
He said that based on information from Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana, the Philippines and China should create their respective task groups that would meet and exchange probe results after conducting separate investigations.
He said the matter would be resolved because the task forces only needed to decide on whether the incident was an accident or intentional and who was responsible, and on the abandonment of the Filipino fishermen, who should be accountable and what is the compensation.