MANILA – Two fishermen rescued by the Chinese coast guard in November have finally returned to the Philippines, and were in Manila Saturday morning.
Morrey Sierra, 45, expressed joy at returning to the country. He also thanked the Chinese and Philippine coast guards for helping them get back home.
According to Sierra, they were in a boat which was swept to Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal) due to high waves caused by typhoon "Marce". Their boat overturned, and he and Lloyd Akeiot, 37, were forced to stay on a rock at the shoal before they were found by Chinese fishermen, who turned them over to the Chinese coast guard.
They were treated well, Sierra said, and were turned over by the Chinese to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) around 3:17 p.m. Friday.
The two fishermen will be brought home to Palawig, Zambales on Sunday.
Two other fishermen were previously rescued, while two others remain missing.
The Philippine coastguard is currently coordinating with their Chinese counterparts to search for the two remaining fishermen.
"Kapag may nangyayari na hindi pagkakaunawaan, kapag may rescue, it transcends the conflict," Commander Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson, said.
(Rescues transcend any conflicts or misunderstandings between nations.)
The Philippines is embroiled in a territorial dispute over shoals in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which include the Panatag Shoal and Scarborough Shoal.
Months after the Philippines' victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, with a ruling which voided China's U-shaped line of sovereignty on its maps, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Scarborough Shoal will be turned into a marine sanctuary.
However, there has been no word of China's response to this. --with reports by Ernie Manio, ABS-CBN News