Regional police chief admits lapse in deploying personnel in full gear to boat captain's home

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Policemen in riot gear were deployed to the house of the boat captain in the Recto Bank incident, June Insigne.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 19) ⁠— The deployment of policemen in riot gear to the house of the boat captain in the Recto Bank incident was a mistake, the Region IV-B (MIMAROPA) police chief said Wednesday.

PBGen. Tomas Apolinario told CNN Philippines that members of the Civil Disturbance Management unit — which handles riots, public disturbances and demonstrations — were sent to the house of Junel Insigne in Occidental Mindoro for the visit of high-level officials.

"That's just precautionary measures and they wanted to have a private talk so we just made sure that it's going to be private," he said.

The regional police chief said additional personnel were sent with Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi as they extended assistance to the 22 fishermen left adrift in Recto Bank on June 9.

"What we deployed there were security personnel because two secretaries — Secretary Pinol and Secretary Cusi — will be arriving there. So we just deployed some area security," he said.

Apolinario said equipment such as shields and helmets brought ny policemen were not used.

"We can put on standby but it should have not been brought out," he said.

He added these were removed after the people near Insigne's house raised their concerns.

Apolinario also assured the public has nothing to worry about.

"The public shouldn't be alarmed pagka may nakitang ganoon [when they see that]. In fact, they should feel more safe na nandoon 'yung PNP o 'yung AFP [that the AFP or the PNP are present]," the police chief said.

A Chinese vessel rammed F/B GEM-VER near Recto Bank on June 10. The Chinese crew abandoned the Filipinos, forcing the local fishermen to stay afloat in the cold sea for almost three hours before a Vietnamese vessel passed by to rescue them. This is the latest reported incident of harassment of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, a portion of the South China Sea within the country's exclusive economic zone.