MANILA - Despite a sea ramming that almost cost them their lives, the captain of F/B GEM-VER said he and his fellow fishermen will still go back to sea once their boat has been repaired.
"'Pag naayos po 'yung bangka namin, lalaot po ulit kami dahil diyan lang po kami kumukuha ng aming sa pang-pamilya," Junel Insigne told DZMM Teleradyo.
(Once our boat is repaired, we will go back to sea because that is our means to support our family.)
According to Insigne, they had been at sea for 10 days and were supposed to go home when the incident happened.
"May 29 po kami umalis, June 9 po kami nabangga...May tatlong tonelada na po ang huli namin, pauwi na rin po kami," he said.
(We left on May 29, we were hit June 9...We already have three tons of fish with us, we were about to go home.)
He noted their catch could have easily earned them at least half a million pesos if sold on the market.
Insigne reiterated that it was a Chinese vessel that hit them, adding they are familiar with these vessels.
"Lagi po kami doon, buwan-buwan, nakikita po namin ang lantsa ng Chinese," he said.
(We go to that area every month, we see Chinese vessels.)
He also said their boat was anchored, with the lights turned on while they were resting, before the incident.
"Marami po kaming ilaw. Sa unahan, may ilaw, sa likod, may ilaw. Hindi po namin pinapatay," Insigne said.
(Our boat was well-lit. We have lights in front, we also have lights at the back part. We don't turn them off.)
He said that after the ramming, some of the fishermen clung to the front of the boat, which was still afloat, while others clung to containers to survive until a Vietnamese vessel arrived to rescue them.
"Tatlong oras po kami [palutang-lutang]," he said.
(We were floating in the sea for 3 hours [before rescue arrived.])
When asked about his supposed meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, Insigne said he did not go because he was not feeling well.
"Yun nga po ang sabi, pero hindi po ako natuloy gawa nang sumama po ang aking pakiramdam," he said.
(That's what they said, but I was not able to go because I was not feeling well.)
Malacañang on Monday denied that there was a scheduled meeting between Duterte and the Filipino fishermen.
A special Cabinet meeting was also supposed to be held on Monday to discuss the West Philippine Sea incident, but the meeting was canceled by the President, according to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Panelo on Monday also denied that a special Cabinet meeting was scheduled specifically to discuss the Recto Bank incident.
Insigne, along with 21 other Filipino fishermen, were abandoned by a Chinese crew and left at sea only to be rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.
The Chinese embassy in Manila downplayed the incident, saying the crew of trawler Yuemaobinyu 42212 "bumped into" the Philippine boat and then left due to safety fears.
"The Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fisherman, but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats," the statement said.
It went on to say the incident was not a "hit and run," as some Philippine authorities had claimed, because the trawler "confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued."