Bataan Fishermen Want Recto Bank Row Settled Peacefully

Members of a big group of fishermen expressed their desire for the Recto Bank row to be settled peacefully but asked that the affected 22 fishermen and the boat owner be provided with the appropriate assistance.

Dalisay Cruz, president of the Sisiman Fishing Association, said there was nothing wrong with President Rodrigo Duterte saying what happened was a small maritime incident that should not be blown out of proportion as every problem has a solution.

The ill-fated boat, F/B Gimber 1, sank on the night of June 9 after being hit by a Chinese vessel at Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea. Vietnamese fishermen later rescued the boat’s 22 crew members.

“Tama po kayo Mr. President, hindi natin kailangan makipaglaban. Ang lahat ng problema may solusyon kung makukuha sa mahinahon, magandang usapan (You are right, Mr. President. There is no need to fight. All problems have solution if there would be a calm & sincere dialogue),” she said.

The association in Barangay Sisiman, which Cruz heads, is composed of more than 50 big fishing boats and 700 fishermen.

Cruz said dialogue is the best solution before anyone contemplates on war as the Philippines is no match to the military power of the Chinese government.

“At kahit meron tayong gamit pandigma, pinaka the best na solusyon – pag-usapan muna bago pumunta sa tinatawag na digmaan. Mr. President, saludo ako sa mga sinasabi ninyo (Even though we have armaments, still the best solution is to talk first before we go to what they call as war. Mr. President, I salute you for what you are saying),” she said.

But as a boat owner, Cruz appealed to President Duterte to help the affected fishermen including in the repair of the damaged fishing vessel.

“Ipagawa ang kanilang panghanapbuhay nang hindi naman sila sumala sa oras dahil alam natin kung paano ang buhay ng isang mangingisda na doon sila humuhugot ng pampaaral, pagkain ng pamilya (Repair the fishermen’s source of livelihood because we know the life of a fisherman, that is where they source funds for their children’s education and food for the family),” she said.

Norbing Gaga-a, 63, also a fishing boat owner, said the damaged fishing boat should be immediately repaired so that the crews can continue earning a living.

“Talagang ganoon lang. Barko nagbabanggaan, eroplano man saka tren. Humingi na lang ng tulong. Kapag nagawa ang bangka, makakapaghanapbuhay ulit (Things like that happen. Ships collide, even airplanes and trains. Just ask for help. Once the boat was repaired, they can go fishing again),” he said. (PNA)