LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET - President Aquino said no one is being accused at this point as to which entity's vessel had allegedly rammed a Philippine fishing boat off Pangasinan, killing one fisherman.
He said an investigation is being conducted and evidence being gathered so that charges would be filed in the appropriate body if ever.
"We are gathering all of the necessary evidence. Once we have gathered the necessary evidence-we are not accusing anybody at this point in time-if there was a ramming incident then iniwan mo 'yung mga tao sa dagat, that is a clear violation of the laws governing the seas. That is actionable, we can go to the appropriate fora to file the necessary charges for justice for our fishermen," Aquino told reporters after attending the oath-taking of new members of the Liberal Party from the Cordillera Administrative Region.
"May investigation, determination of cause, determination of who is at fault then after all of this investigation, that tells us where we will proceed. Ngayon, huwag muna tayong magsabing kasalanan ni Pedro, ni Juan, ni Maria, kung sino man habang walang ebidensya. Pinagugulo lang natin ang sitwasyon. Baka ang mamaya niyan, baligtad lahat ng natuklasan doon sa ebidensya," he added.
President Aquino said he intends to visit the three fishermen rescued and are now recuperating in a hospital. Assitance would also be given to them.
There are also ongoing operations to rescue those who are still missing, he said.
The President has not made a decision on whether to redeploy Philippine vessels to Scarborough shoal, saying there is no information yet if any Chinese vessel remains in the area.
He earlier said that a Philippine aircraft would do an "overfly" to determine if foreign ships remain in the area, in which case Philippine vessels will be sent back to the shoal.
"Wala pa akong latest na survey na ginawa ng ating Coast Guard islander," he said.
The Philippines alleged on Sunday that a Chinese vessel accidentally rammed a local fishing boat north of a disputed South China Sea shoal, killing one and leaving four others missing.
The fishing boat set out from the northern coastal town of Bolinao, in Pangasinan province, last Monday and was reported to have sunk two days later, Office of Civil Defense chief Benito Ramos told AFP.
"Of the eight fishermen aboard, four were plucked out of sea only yesterday, but one of them died in a hospital," Ramos said. "Four more are still missing."
The rescued fishermen told authorities they believed the vessel which collided with their boat was Chinese, Ramos said, though this could not be independently verified.
Chinese embassy officials were not available for comment on Sunday.
The body of the lone fatality has also arrived in Bolinao. With Agence France-Presse