Captain of abandoned PH boat: 'Lumubog nga kami, kami pa ang aatake?'

OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, Philippines – The captain of the sunken Philippine F/B Gem-Ver belied China's claims that the Chinese fishing vessel tried to help them but Filipino boats "besieged" the bigger vessel.

"Kami-kami lang ang nandoon. Kami-kami lang. Wala namang ibang bangka doon. Kami lang doon. Kami lang dahil noong gabing 'yun [lumubog] nga kami, kami pa ang aatake?" Junel Insigne told Rappler in an interview at the Philippine Coast Guard Headquarters in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro on Friday evening, June 14.

(We were the only ones there. We were the only ones. There were no other boats there. It was only us. It was only us because that night, we sank, so how could we also attack?)

Insigne is the captain of FB Gem-Ver, which left for a fishing expedition to Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea on May 29. They were supposed to stay at sea for at least 15 days, but a Chinese fishing vessel rammed its rear open on the 12th day, June 9, and left the boat and its crew to sink. (READ: AFP: Chinese vessel's sinking of PH boat 'far from accidental')

The Filipinos were then rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat. (INSIDE STORY: How Filipino crew were saved by Vietnamese in West PH Sea)

China on Friday admitted a Chinese vessel was involved in the incident and claimed that it approached the sinking boat to help but was "besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats." Insigne denied China's claim.

He repeated what he has been saying ever since the encounter happened: A Chinese vessel assaulted them and left them to sink.

"Talagang binangga nila kami. Kung talagang kami'y tutulungan n'yo, dapat hindi sila tumakbo palayo. Eh nakitang lumubog, tumakbo sila palayo, pinatay pa ang ilaw para hindi makilala, para hindi makita," he said.

(They really rammed us. If they really tried to help us, they shouldn't have sped away. They saw us sinking, they left, they even turned off their lights so they wouldn't be identified.) – Rappler.com

Read stories related to the incident:

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

image