Locsin’s traitorous stupidity
On July 3, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. went on TV to paint the Gem-Ver 1 fishermen — those who had almost lost their lives when a Chinese vessel rammed their fishing boat — in the harshest possible light.
“I got the Coast Guard report immediately. Our investigation was finished. It was exhaustive. It’s not, I got to tell you, it doesn’t paint our fishermen in the brightest light,” Locsin told the ABS-CBN News Channel.
He said he was not authorized to reveal details of the investigation conducted by the Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority: “But I can tell you this much. There was no lookout, that the cook was out there on deck, everybody was asleep, and he looked up and there’s a boat coming, and continued with whatever he was doing, and then he looked up again, [and realized] ‘Oh, it’s coming closer.’ And then he looked up again and my God, it’s gonna hit.”
It is extraordinary that this former journalist and veteran politician offered a spin on the investigative report as though it would not leak or be shared by conscientious officials, or that once leaked or shared people would not be able to read and understand the report for themselves.
As a matter of fact, the report did fault the Filipino fishermen for not assigning a lookout when the rest of the crew slept. The other shortcomings were more documentary in nature; they do not have a bearing on the collision.
On the other hand, the report determined that the “Unidentified Chinese Fishing Vessel” committed two damning violations of international standards: “failed to take appropriate action to avoid the risk of collision and to render assistance to a vessel in distress.” This phrasing is less direct and accusatory as the initial finding in the preliminary report, but it is still significant. And any fair reading of the report would find that these violations are in fact the report’s highlights: They have a direct bearing on the incident, and why the fishermen lost all their catch and almost lost their lives.
In the report’s Analysis section, we read this:
“Look-out. Richard Blaza, who first saw the incoming fishing vessel, is not designated as a look-out but was only awake to perform his routine duty as cook. By not having or maintaining a designated look-out at the time they were anchored, particularly during night time, no one could signal an alarm of any approaching danger, which is not in compliance with Rule 5 of COLREG [Collision Regulation] 72 which states that ‘Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.’”
That’s clear. But immediately after this paragraph, we read the following:
“Responsibilities between vessels. 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. (a) A power-driven vessel under way shall keep out of the way of: (i) a vessel not under command (ii) a vessel restricted in her ability to manoevre.”
This is a simple restatement of the rule, but only a traitorous heart or a stupid mind can fail to grasp the significance. Even if we grant the unlikely possibility that it was an accident, the Chinese vessel and its crew still bear responsibility for not preventing the incident in the first place. Ordinary Filipinos can understand its import, but for the benefit of Locsin, let’s make it clear: It means the primary responsibility for the near-loss of life lies with the Chinese vessel.
This paragraph is then followed by another, much longer one, which begins thus:
“Failure to extend assistance. 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. However, by failing to extend assistance, the master of the vessel which hit FBca ‘GEM-VER’ did not comply with the following Regulations”—at which point the report references specific provisions in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Safety of Life at Sea (or Solas).
This is the damning detail that has angered many Filipinos; that the fishermen were left to die. The report is clear on this. And yet what does Locsin, made stupid by his traitorous instincts, say? “It does not paint our fishermen in the brightest lights. They’re wrong.” It is time this man stop representing the Filipino people he so obviously despises.
On Twitter: @jnery_newsstand,
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