Gem-Ver 1: “Very Serious Marine Casualty”

Inquirer editorial

… The report did say that the Filipino fishermen failed to have a lookout, employed an unlicensed chief engine officer, carried persons onboard in excess of the authorized capacity and had an expired license from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

But it also said the boat Gem-Ver 1 displayed anchor lights and white flashing light in compliance with maritime regulations.

Also, the weather was “fair with starry skies on a first quarter moon” and “visibility was slightly clear and the sea state was calm”; thus, it would have been impossible for the Chinese vessel not to see the Philippine boat.

Contrary to the President’s characterization, the PCG-MIA [Philippine Coast Guard-Maritime Industry Authority] report described the sinking of the Gem-Ver 1 as a “Very Serious Marine Casualty due to the total loss of ship.”

And while it did not say whether the “bumping” of Gem-Ver 1 by the Chinese trawler was deliberate, it noted that “the fact that the other fishing vessel hit the anchored fishing banca is an indication that they did not perform necessary actions prescribed in Rule 18 (a) to prevent the incident” — referring to rules under the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

The Chinese vessel, according to the report, “was found to have failed to take appropriate action to avoid the risk of collision and to render assistance to a vessel in distress.”

The second part is the crux of the matter, and what most sticks in the craw: that the Chinese left the Filipino fishermen in distress — but not before it circled back, apparently to check whether the Filipino boat had indeed gone under.

“By maneuvering back and stopping approximately 50 meters away from FBca ‘GEM-VER’ with her fishing lights open, the other vessel can be considered to have direct knowledge of the distress situation,” said the report. But, according to the fishermen, the Chinese vessel then turned off its lights and fled the scene.

… In a statement, the Chinese Embassy identified the Chinese trawler as the Yuemaobinyu 42212 of Guandong province. In that same statement, it peddled the lie, since retracted, that the Chinese vessel left the scene out of fear that it would be “besieged” by seven or eight other Filipino boats in the area (there were none). …

our side, our version of events, for the record.

Why the Constitution has to be defended

Tony La Viña

For three years now, the Constitution has been under relentless attack, and ironically it is the President, whose oath of office commits him to execute and defend it, who is leading the assault.

Among others, the Bill of Rights has been disregarded in the conduct of the war against drugs, in the fight against insurgency, in retaliating against human rights defenders, and in suppressing political dissent by going after opposition figures like Senators Leila De Lima and Antonio Trillanes. The doctrine of separation of powers has been set aside, notably in the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and in criticism by the President of independent accountability mechanisms like the Commission on Audit and the Commission on Human Rights.

And now, the sacred constitutional cow of our national territory is tossed aside in defense of a failed policy of appeasement with China.

We live in perilous times. Unfolding before us, the constitutional order is being destroyed. In the name of our children who must be saved from shabu, promising to eradicate all corruption and to end an insurgency without addressing its roots, and out of misplaced friendship to and an unfounded fear of war against China, the Constitution is being buried by a lawyer-president aided by fellow lawyers trained in sophistry and not with Socratic wisdom.

Why should we care?  Read on…

China, Duterte, and Philippine democracy

Katrina S.S.

No, I don’t think Duterte is scared of China.

I think that he and his men entered into agreements with China, they signed on for projects and the Belt and Road Initiative, and now cannot even take a stand against whatever aggression our fishermen experience from the Chinese in West Philippines Sea. Government (i.e., the Philippines) is so deep in China deals that it has become difficult to even speak. Utang na loob is one of the more effective forms of silencing for Filipinos after all, and China — cunning as it is — doesn’t even need to invoke it; they just know someone like Duterte would feel so indebted there would be no way he would be able to take a stand.

Government propagandists call it “diplomacy.” But let’s assess this situation for what it is: Duterte put all his eggs in the China basket, and now he can’t even find his balls.

Here’s the ironic part though: China has realized that it doesn’t matter that they hold Duterte by the balls. It doesn’t matter because it doesn’t mean they can do all that they want with and in the Philippines. What it’s up against is the rest of us. And Philippine democracy — no matter how it’s been discredited and put into question by the success of Duterte propaganda — still has its balls intact.

Read on…

Habitus and the pivot to China

Randy David

By emotional disposition, Filipinos tend to harbor a deep suspicion of China. This is confirmed by a succession of public opinion surveys showing the Filipino public’s huge distrust for this Asian hegemon. It is an attitude that far exceeds any negative sentiment we may have against Spain, the United States or Japan — countries that actually invaded the Philippines and subjugated our people.

Read on...