Gem-Ver captain's wife on joint probe with China: 'Hiwalay dapat'

OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, Philippines – Lanie Insigne, the wife of the Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver captain, said she preferred a separate investigation by the Philippines and China into the boat sinking incident in the West Philippine Sea.

"Hiwalay dapat, siyempre. 'Di namin alam kung ano [ang mangyayari]...[dapat] patas na paiimbestigahan," Insigne told reporters on Friday, June 21.

(It should be separate, of course. We don't know what will happen...it should be a fair investigation)

The Insignes were first asked if they agreed that both the Philippines and China should investigate the matter, to which they replied yes, so that the Chinese vessel could be held accountable. But after being asked if it should be done together or separately, Lanie spelled out her position, which contrasted with that of the Palace and the Chinese foreign ministry.

Her husband, Junel Insigne, was among the 22 fishermen left stranded at sea after being abandoned by a Chinese vessel that rammed and sank F/B Gem-Ver in the middle of the night.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte found acceptable a joint Philippines-China investigation into the Recto (Reed) Bank boat sinking incident. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana likewise said he supported a joint probe.

This, despite it being thumbed down by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr who said on Twitter that "a joint investigation trenches on each other's sovereignty."

Justice needed: Junel Insigne, meanwhile, repeated what he's asked for from the government: that the captain of the Chinese vessel be held accountable for leaving them at sea.

"Gusto lang talaga po namin, managot yung kapitan ng barko (What we really want is for the captain of the boat to be held accountable," Junel said.

"Siya ang nasusunod doon (His orders are followed)," he added.

What probe? The investigation is supposed to pin down details of what happened on the night of June 9, when F/B Gem-Ver was rammed and sunk by a Chinese Vessel near Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

The 22 Filipino fishermen who were aboard the vessel were abandoned and left to float at sea for hours until a Vietnamese fishing boat saved them.

The fishermen's near-death ordeal has been downplayed by the government with some officials casting doubt on the fishermen's own accounts. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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