MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana believes that the Chinese should at least apologize and pay compensation to the Philippines and the aggrieved fishermen rammed and abandoned by a Chinese trawler in the West Philippine Sea.
"I think that would be appropriate, to demand to the ship captain, to apologize, and to make restitution for the damage," Lorenzana said in a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum in Malate, Manila on Wednesday, June 19.
He was responding to a question of a reporter asking if the Philippine government should demand an apology and compensation from the Chinese government.
He clarified in a text message after the forum that he was referring to the captain and the crew of the Chinese fishing vessel.
Lorenzana gave the statement after saying in the same forum that he believes the ramming was accidental, contradicting the findings of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which said it was "far from accidental."
Apologize for what? On June 9, a Chinese fishing vessel rammed and abandoned Filipino F/B Gem-Ver near Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea. There were 22 Filipino crewmen aboard.
Regardless of the intent, Lorenzana said the damage had already been done. According to estimates of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and an owner of Gem-Ver, they lost a total of P2.2 million in the incident – in terms of capital, fish, and damage to the boat itself.
He's deviating from Duterte: Lorenzana's statement comes as President Rodrigo Duterte and other members of his Cabinet chose to hold back in condemning China and demanding an apology for the incident.
Lorenzana also insisted that while he perceived the ramming to be an accident, he still condemns the abandonment of the Filipino fishermen, saying, "My statement still stands."