Robredo visits Filipino fishermen, provides assistance

OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo visited the 22 fishermen of Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver on Friday, June 21, to hold a dialogue with them and to provide assistance.

Robredo flew to Occidental Mindoro and arrived at Gem-Ver Owner Felix Dela Torre's home at about 10 am where the closed-door discussion was held. The meeting lasted close to an hour.

Each of the 22 fishermen received P50,000 under the Office of the Vice President's Angat Buhay Program.

After the closed-door meeting, Robredo then visited the homes of Gem-Ver mechanic Boy Gordionez and Gem-Ver captain Junel Insigne.

According to Insigne, Robredo asked the fishermen to share their accounts of what had happened when a Chinese vessel rammed, sunk, and abandoned the Philippine fishing boat near Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea on the night of June 9.

"Nagpakuwento lang siya kung ano 'yung nangyari (She just asked us what happened)," Insigne told reporters.

Aside from damage to the fishing boat – the fishermen and their families' only source of livelihood – the sinking of Gem-Ver also meant the loss of supplies and "high-value" fish harvested. (READ: Loss after boat sinking estimated at P2.2M)

After meeting with the fishermen and visiting some of their homes, Robredo left Barangay San Roque where the fishermen's homes were located.

When asked what she discussed with the fishermen, the Vice President only said, "Kinamusta lang (I just checked on them)," and did not elaborate.

Robredo had earlier issued a statement condemning "in the strongest possible terms the irresponsible actions of the Chinese crew involved in the incident." – 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.

image