A Filipino fishing boat was rammed by a Chinese vessel which abandoned the 22 fishermen in the sea in June 9. In this just an ordinary, simple maritime incident? This is the claim by a Chinese diplomat which was readily seconded by Duterte and then chimed in by his minions in cabinet and the senate. At first the tone of the government was indignation, then it softened down to mere downplaying.

Abandoning people to die in the sea is utter cruelty! It is so inhuman! This is even against international law! Were it not for a Vietnamese vessel which picked up the fishermen from the waters, they would have died. And our government does not have the guts to demand at least an apology from the Chinese. Why can’t the government do this? Is it so much indebted to the Chinese already?

It is good that there are still many Filipinos who are bold enough to show their indignation. They raise their voice, some in the streets, many in the social media and still many in their conversations. This is not right! The government should protect its people, at least within its own territory. We should not be subservient to the Chinese. Justice demands that there not only be apology but compensation for the damage done. If we keep silent now, the Chinese will just easily take us for granted in the future. Yes, we need an independent foreign policy – independent from all, not only from the West but also from the Chinese.

 It is very unfortunate that it is always the poor who are being taken for granted, and even victimized. The urban poor are the primary victim of the war on drugs, thousands have already been killed and the killings still continue; labor and farmer leaders are being killed, tagged as rebels; lands and schools of the lumads continue to be militarized. Now it is the turn of the fishermen to be abandoned.

Let us, who are able, speak up. Let us not take the line of Duterte that this is just an ordinary incident, and just be silent about it. This is serious and we demand apology and compensation. If the government does not raise its voice, let us raise ours. This is the least that we can do for our fishermen, and for our Philippine sovereignty.

Broderick Pabillo

June 21, 2019