Expedite search-and-rescue, ensure safety of FV Liberty 5 crew – Anakpawis

Expedite search-and-rescue, ensure safety of FV Liberty 5 crew – Anakpawis

Manila, Philippines – As the 14 crew of fishing vessel Liberty 5 remains missing, the Anakpawis Party-list urged all involved government agencies to speed up search-and-rescue efforts. The Hong Kong flagged foreign vessel, M/V Vienna Wood N, rammed the said fishing vessel off the coast of Cape Calavite in Paluan town, Occidental Mindoro early morning hours of Sunday.

“All must be exhausted by the government to save the fishermen victims. If they fail, this will mark the regime with ‘reign of hit-and-run’ against Filipino fishermen. This is the second incident under Duterte’s watch, following the nefarious abandonment of 22 fishermen of F/B Gem-ver 1 by the crew of a Chinese vessel June last year,” Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao, Anakpawis Party-list former representative said in a press statement.

He stressed that it is apparent that foreign vessels disregard Filipino fishermen, to the point of disregarding the “duty to render assistance” as provisioned by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other conventions on safety and rescue, and worse, they commit this within the territorial waters of a sovereign state.

“We blame this trend to the government’s enabling of impunity that favors foreign vessels, especially those from China, as in the case of F/B Gem-ver 1, where the victims are still yet to be compensated even after a year,” the former lawmaker slammed.

The group also pressed the owners of the F/V Liberty 5, the Irma Fishing and Trading, Inc. not to abandon their fish workers and fully hold the perpetrator accountable. Moreover, he chided Malacanang for its double-standard, who announced that the incident would be covered by national laws.

“It is obvious of their statement, when the involved perpetrator is not from mainland China, given that the F/B Gem-ver 1 was rammed at Recto Bank, part of our exclusive economic zone, and there are laws that cover the EEZ, but they were not enforced,” he said.

The Republic Act 8550 or Fisheries Code and its amendments RA 10654 cover the EEZ, but the Duterte government defaults its enforcement and tolerated plunder of national patrimony, and “Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing” by China.

“This is double-standard that favors imperialist China, an undisputed proof of Duterte’s surrender policy on the West Philippine Sea,” he ended. ###

MV Vienna Wood N, held at Batangas Port.
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