MANILA - The Philippines on Thursday vowed that families of the two Vietnamese fishermen killed in an incident in the West Philippine Sea would be properly compensated.
In a bilateral meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart at Camp Aguinaldo, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said President Rodrigo Duterte himself had made this assurance.
Lorenzana also expressed his sincerest apologies to Vietnamese Minister of National Defense Ngo Xuan Lich for the incident that involved men from the Philippine Navy.
These men, Lorenzana said, are currently being investigated.
A source privy to the investigation of the incident earlier said the Philippine Navy is at fault in the death of the two fishermen during a chase in the waters off Pangasinan.
Moving forward, the two countries agreed on creating a concrete mechanism between their navies to prevent a similar incident from happening again.
"Our defense cooperation with Vietnam has been very positive and we intend to build on those successes," said Lorenzana, noting how Vietnam was able to develop its own military industry.
The two officials also discussed the possibility of increasing opportunities for exchanges of senior and junior officers, information and intelligence sharing, and joint military training.
The Philippines and Vietnam are among six parties claiming parts of the South China Sea. Manila calls its exclusive economic zone in the disputed waters the West Philippine Sea.