Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday appealed to the government not to downplay recent reports of another Philippine fishing boat colliding with a Chinese vessel saying it should thoroughly look into the incident and search for the 14 Filipino fishermen who are still missing. Hontiveros is referring to the maritime collision between a Filipino-owned fishing boat and a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Occidental Mindoro before dawn on Sunday, June 28. “Fourteen of our Filipino fishermen are missing. Our priority should be to find them, fully investigate, and not to further protect China’s interests,” Hontiveros said.

“We shouldn’t soft-pedal these incidents when we know this is not the first time that Chinese vessels have put Filipinos in danger,” she said. (Let’s side with our fishermen please),” Hontiveros urged noting how Malacañang asserted that the crash with the 14 Filipinos still missing was a mere a simple collision. The lawmaker further urged the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to “leave no water or land unchecked” in their search, rescue, and investigation.“I appeal to the government to commit that we will be able to return these Filipino fishermen to their families as soon as possible,” she said.

The government should also demand justice from China since the ‘hit and run” act of the Chinese ship—like the Gem-Ver 1 incident—is in stark violation of international maritime laws. She also urged the government to make China accountable for building illegal “stations” in the West Philippine Sea, particularly at the Zamora and Kagitingan Reefs, in the middle of the pandemic. Let’s prioritize the safety of our fishermen and fellow Filipinos than entertain China’s feelings,” she said

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