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Chinese shipowner apologizes for Recto Bank incident



MANILA-- The shipowner of the Chinese vessel that figured in the June 2019 incident near Recto Bank has apologized to the Filipino fishermen, whose boat was damaged but maintained the collision was "accidental".

A memorandum penned to Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. was posted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) bearing the translated portion of a letter from the president of the Guangdong Fishery Mutual Insurance Association.

It was sent to and received by the Philippine Embassy in Beijing on August 26.

"It is fortunate that there were no casualties. I feel deep regret that this accident had to happen and I would like to express my deep sympathy to the Filipino fishermen. The shipowner of the Chinese fishing boat involved, through our Association, would like to express his sincere apology to the Filipino fishermen," it reads.

The letter also noted the results of the association's own investigation, which found out that the Chinese vessel involved was a member of their group.

"At present, we have come up with an accident investigation report. We believe that, although this accident was an unintentional mistake of the Chinese fishermen, the Chinese fishing boat should, however, take the major responsibility in the accident," it said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine side is requested to file a specific appeal for civil compensation based on the actual loss of the Filipinos affected.

"Our association will urge the shipowner of the fishing boat involved to actively coordinate with the Philippine side to expedite the latter's claim for compensation according to the procedures for insurance claim," the letter further reads.

The recent incident involved the Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver1 and a Chinese vessel at an area within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

It resulted in the sinking of the Gem-Ver1, leaving its 22 Filipino crew floundering in the water for several hours until they were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat. (PNA)

Joyce Ann L. Rocamora/PNA