LOOK: Philippine fishing boat sunk by Chinese vessel in West PH Sea

MANILA, Philippines – It didn't seem much at first glance, but many families had depended on fishing boat (F/B) Gem-Ver for their livelihood for years.

On Sunday night, June 9, a Chinese vessel sank Gem-Ver as it was anchored near Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

Aboard were 22 men: the captain, a kitchen man, a repair man, and 19 crewmen in charge of fishing.

It’s a family boat owned by couple Felix and Fe dela Torre, residents of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

They have been using it since 2011 to fish in the West Philippine Sea for lapu-lapu (grouper) and sniper fish.

Bigay lang po ng pamilya ng asawa ko 'yan dahil nag-iisa po siyang anak na lalaki,” Fe told Rappler in a phone interview on Thursday, June 13. (That was just given to us by the family of my husband because he’s the only son.)

The boat, she said, was named after the star signs of her father-in-law, a Gemini, and her husband Felix, who is a Virgo. They have been relying on the fishing boat for their livelihood and for funds to build their home.

Fe said the boat had been out at sea since May 29. The crew targets a 15-day minimum stay at sea to make the most out of their supplies. But on the 12th day, June 9,  the incident happened.

Since that day, the couple has been restless, worrying for the safety of their crew and the future of their expanded family, which included their fishing boat crew.

After the incident, the F/B Gem-Ver was brought to the Western Command base of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is investigating the incident. The Dela Torres hope that the government could ensure that their crew, as well as their boat, would return to Occidental Mindoro safely.

Kaming mga pamilya diyan lang po kami umaasa,” said Fe. (Our families only rely on that.) – Rappler.com

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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.

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