Minority senators nix joint probe on Recto bank allision


Posted at Jun 23 2019 01:12 PM

MANILA -- Some minority senators thumbed down the joint probe of the Philippines and China into the boat-ramming incident in Recto (Reed) Bank.

Senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, and Francis Pangilinan expressed dismay over the move as they cast doubt on the investigation's would-be result.

Hontiveros, in a tweet, said the joint probe might be rigged by China.

"Any joint probe with an evasive Chinese government would be, quite literally, lutong makaw," she said.

"If China intends only to whitewash the incident and is unwilling to bring her erring citizens to justice for their acts, then any joint probe would be an exercise in futility," she said.

Pangilinan said a joint investigation with Beijing is "disadvantageous to our national interests."

"It will never be a fair investigation when one is the oppressed and the other is the oppressor. When one is the victim and the other is the perpetrator," he said.

The Liberal Party lawmaker noted that such a move is against the Philippines Fisheries Code, which mandates the government to safeguard the safety of the country's fishery and aquatic resources.

"Part also of the government’s mandate is to address foreign illegal entrants in our waters. The Recto Bank incident is already a shoe-in to these provisions," he said as he urged the government to speed up its own investigation.

For Drilon, a joint investigation with Beijing can prejudice Manila's claims in the South China Sea.

“I am opposed to a joint investigation with China. We should not allow it. The law is on our side. There are clear violations of international treaties and our local laws committed by the Chinese vessel. A joint investigation will only serve their interest, not ours,” Drilon said in a statement.

The senator said there is no need for a joint investigation since China "unlawfully interfered" with the Philippines' exercise of its sovereign rights with respect to the resources of its exclusive economic zone.

The Recto Bank is part of the Philippines' EEZ.
“There is no need for a joint investigation. The incident happened within our territory and the facts were clearly established. All that is left for the government to do is to implement and execute our laws. Sadly, our laws were put in the backseat in favor of China, ” Drilon said.

President Rodrigo Duterte agreed to a joint investigation with China to find a “satisfactory closure” to the Reed Bank incident, according to his spokesman, Salvador Panelo.

Part of it, Panelo said, would be an admission of guilt and apology from the party at fault, and compensation of the aggrieved party.

Foreign Affairs Secetary Teodoro Locsin Jr. previously rejected the idea of a joint investigation, but Panelo said that upon talking to him Friday night, Locsin deferred to the President.