“I am sorry if that is how they feel,” says President Duterte on Recto Bank fishermen’s hurt feelings

A handout photo taken on June 14, 2019, and released on June 15 by the Philippine Coastguard shows Filipino fishermen on board the BRP Ramon Alcaraz on Occidental Mindoro. – Beijing confirmed on June 15, 2019 that a Chinese vessel hit a Philippine fishing boat in a collision which has increased tensions in the disputed South China Sea, but denied claims it was a “hit and run”. (Photo by HANDOUT / AFP)

Explains context of his earlier remarks about maritime incident

(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte apologized to the 22 fishermen whose vessel sank after a Chinese vessel hit it while anchored at Recto Bank, saying that this was a maritime incident that he was not belittling.

Duterte on Monday evening, June 24, said he was sorry if that was how the fishermen felt about his initial statement on the Recto Bank incident.

“Well, I’m sorry, but that’s how it is,” he said when told about how the fishermen felt.
“It’s a maritime incident. Little in the sense that there was no confrontation, there was no bloody violence.”

“So I am sorry if that is how they feel. But they know that that area is claimed by both. For China, it happened within their jurisdiction. For us (it happened) within our jurisdiction. We have two conflicting claims of ownership,” he told reporters on Monday evening at the premiere of “Kontradiksyon,” a movie about the country’s drug war.

The president explained his remarks.

“It’s a maritime incident. Little in the sense that it did not result to any confrontation. This not to belittle anything. There was damage but luckily nobody died,” he said.

Duterte said that the incident where the Filipino vessel, F/B Gem-Ver, was hit by a Chinese vessel, resulting in the 22 fishermen becoming adrift at sea on June 9, was not enough to justify sending military ships to the area.

That is not a reason to go to any military exercise there. Pag ginawa mo ‘yan, giyera ‘yan. So I’m sorry if ‘yun ang feeling nila,” he said.