MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he did not accept the apology of the owner of the Chinese fishing boat involved in the Reed Bank allision incident, despite reports of the top Philippine envoy doing otherwise.
"Hey morons! I merely NOTED the Chinese apology. I did not accept it. I am not a fisherman," Locsin said in a tweet Wednesday.
In a memorandum addressed to Locsin, the unnamed Chinese company apologized for the June 9 incident wherein a Chinese vessel rammed an anchored Filipino fishing boat before leaving its fishers floating at sea.
"The shipowner of the Chinese fishing boat involved, through our association, would like to express his sincere apology to the Filipino fishermen," the memorandum read.
But the Chinese shipowner, identified as Chen Shiqin, insisted that the incident was "accidental."
Locsin said Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo "merely expressed satisfaction with the Chinese apology for the incident and the offer of compensation and nothing more."
Malacañang earlier accepted the apology, saying it welcomes the ship owner's "humility."
"We accept the recent apology extended by the owner of the Chinese vessel to our fishermen affected by the incident. We likewise welcome the owner's humility to take responsibility and acknowledgment that compensation must be provided to cover the actual loss," Panelo said.
The apology landed ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's 5th visit to China, where he is expected to raise Manila's arbitral victory in 2016 handed by the United Nations that invalidated Beijing's claims in the disputed South China Sea.
Beijing's embassy in Manila previously denied that the Chinese crew abandoned the Filipino fishermen, saying the captain of the Chinese ship tried to save the Filipinos but was "afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats."
- With reports from Willard Cheng and Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News