Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has received a copy of the result of the investigation conducted by concerned agencies on the Recto Bank incident but he refused to give details about the report.
Lorenzana, interviewed on the sidelines of the 45th anniversary of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines in Makati City, admitted he has a copy of the Recto Bank report.
However, Lorenzana did not disclose the contents of the report.
“Hindi ko masasagot ‘yan kasi mayroon pang inaayos ‘yong sa taas eh,” he said. “Huwag muna tayo dyan kasi nasunog na ako dyan, baka masunog ulit ako,” he added.
The Defense chief reportedly received the report last Thursday, more than two weeks after it was submitted to Malacanang on June 20.
Lorenzana said he has yet to read the report. “Hindi ko pa nababasa eh. I have to read it first,” he said.
His refusal to disclose the report seemed to be consistent with his sudden change of heart a few days following his revelation of the Recto Bank incident to the public on June 12.
“A collision between a Chinese and Filipino vessel was reported by Filipino fishermen near the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea on the evening of June 9, 2019. The collision sank the Filipino vessel,” Lorenzana had said in a statement released on Independence Day.
“We denounce the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for immediately leaving the scene of the incident, abandoning the 22 Filipino crewmen to the mercy of the elements,” he added in the strongly-worded statement.
The official thanked the Vietnamese fishermen who saved the Filipino crew and condemned “in the strongest terms” the “cowardly action” of the Chinese vessel and its crew.
Five days after Lorenzana’s revelation, President Duterte broke his silence on the issue and said what happened was “just a collision.”
Lorenzana seemed to have softened his stance from then on.
In an interview in General Santos City on June 13, he said a probe was needed to “make sure” that it was a Chinese vessel that actually hit the Filipino fishing boat.
The Chinese government later confirmed that the vessel involved in the incident was theirs, identifying it as Yuemaobinyu 42212.
The Philippine Coast Guard and Maritime Industry Authority separately conducted investigations, the result of which had been submitted to Duterte. (Martin A. Sadongdong)