Filipino-Chinese businessmen promise help for fisherfolk in Recto Bank ramming incident

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FFCCCII President Henry Lim Bon Liong vows assistance for the 22 Filipino fishermen whose boat sank at Recto Bank.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 16) ⁠— Filipino-Chinese businessmen have expressed a commitment to help the 22 fisherfolk whose boat sank after being hit by a Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea on June 9.

Henry Lim Bon Liong, president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc., said in a forum Sunday the group will shoulder the cost of rehabilitating the damaged fishing boat. The affected fishermen are also set to receive rice supply while their boat is under repair, the association said.

But Lim clarified the assistance is not an admission of guilt on China's behalf since the probe is still ongoing.

"We are not going to dwell sino ang may kasalanan dito," the FFCCCII president said. "Basta ang concern natin dito ang kabuhayan ng mangingisda natin ngayon."

[Translation: We are not going to dwell who is at fault here. Our concern is the livelihood of our fisherfolk.]

Lim expressed belief the ramming incident will not affect Philippine-China ties, adding that he expected President Rodrigo Duterte to address the issue soon following advice from Cabinet officials.

"I don’t see any effect between the two and I pray that this will not be anything that will hamper our two countries," he said.

Not deliberate?

Roland Simbulan, a development studies professor from the University of the Philippines Manila, believes the Chinese government did not order to sink the boats. He believes Beijing will not opt to sever its ties with Manila.

"Maybe merong mga individual acts 'yung kanilang tauhan diyan, mga mangingisda nila na ang pagtingin ang Tsina napakalakas na bansa, kaya meron silang mga excesses na ganito," he said.

[Translation: Maybe there are individuals among the Chinese, their fishers who believe that China is such a powerful nation, so they tend to commit excesses like this one.]

The UP professor said China can prove its resolve to address the ramming incident by penalizing the crew members of the Chinese vessel for leaving the Filipino fishermen adrift.

Chinese-Philippine ties have improved under the administration of President Duterte, who has been criticized for failure to assert a 2016 international arbitral ruling recognizing the Philippines' sovereign rights over its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea. Beijing has refused to observe this invalidation of their historical sweeping claim and has repeatedly encroached in disputed islands in the South China Sea, including the Reed Bank in the Philippine EEZ.