By: Genalyn D. Kabiling
A comprehensive investigation into the deadly encounter between the Philippine Navy and Vietnamese fishermen off the coast of Pangasinan is now underway, Malacañang assured yesterday.
“Authorities are now conducting a fair and thorough investigation into the incident involving a Philippine Navy vessel and Vietnamese fishing boats which were seen fishing 34 nautical miles off Cape Bolinao in Pangasinan well within exclusive economic zone,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said during a Palace press briefing.
“The incident led to the death of two Vietnamese nationals,” he said.
He said the Department of Foreign Affairs is closely coordinating with officials of the Embassy of Vietnam in Manila for developments on the case.
The government also intends to facilitate access to the five Vietnamese fishermen taken custody by the Navy, according to Abella.
A Philippine Navy patrol vessel reportedly encountered six Vietnamese boats fishing reportedly trespassing off the coast of Pangasinan and conducted a pursuit operation. One of the foreign boats reportedly slammed into the local patrol vessel. Two fishermen were later found dead when Navy personnel boarded the boat.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has offered the government’s sympathies over the deaths of the two fishermen during a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.