"Maybe Panelo could switch careers and be a singer instead."
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo should get his act together. During an interview on ANC, Panelo misspoke in the same breath. First he said there was a possibility that the ship that rammed the Filipino fishing boat was probably not Chinese at all. And then he said China was investigating the incident. So, why then is China investigating the incident? Which is which, Mr. Panelo?
As a lawyer, he should know one cannot contradict one’s statement. It shows the lack of logic in one’s thinking. The ramming of the Filipino fishing boat by the Chinese ship has gained international attention because the Chinese boat fled the scene of the accident if indeed it was an accident. How could it be an accidental collision when the Filipino boat with 22 fishermen was anchored on Philippine waters in the Recto or Reed bank in the West Philippine Sea? It’s a wide open sea and presumably the bigger Chinese ship is equipped with high tech communications and navigation equipment.
Panelo, by saying there’s a possibility that the erring ship is not Chinese, could almost be speaking for China. The surviving fishermen of the Filipino fishing boat were positive in identifying the bigger boat that rammed them was Chinese. This, aside from the fact that the Chinese boat shone searchlights on them while they struggled in the water. They also are familiar with these foreign vessels as they have seen these ships hovering in the area. So whom do we believe—the fishermen, or Panelo who has never been to the area?
The Chinese ambassador in Manila, Zhao Jian Hua, has already come out with an official statement that his government is investigating the incident and will punish the culprits. But Panelo did him good by fanning doubts the ship might not even be Chinese.
But which country has been deploying its armed patrol boats in the area and shooing away Filipino fishermen from our own waters? And why did the errant ship flee the scene and abandon the distressed ship and its crew in possibly shark-infested waters? This is cold-blooded behavior. It violates the very essence of international maritime law that a ship in the area must help any ship in distress. The skipper of the Chinese ship probably saw the consequences of their action that he immediately steered his ship out of the scene. This is outrageous action that must be punished by China, if not in an international court, then in a fair and objective investigation. China, on the other hand, if it truly values its bilateral relations with the Philippines, must do the same.
Questions are being asked particularly by former House Rep. Neri Colmenares why President Duterte is silent on the boat ramming incident. Is Panelo already mouthing his view on the matter?
I guess Beijing does not need any help. With his fawning, Panelo himself has favored, if not practically exonerated, the Chinese ship. Maybe the Chinese can give him a medal of honor or an honorary Chinese citizenship.
What can the Philippines do in light of this abominable action by China? We can show our displeasure by recalling our ambassador to China, Chito Sta. Romana, and temporarily shutting down our embassy in Beijing. We can also tighten our immigration laws to prevent the influx of illegal Chinese workers in the country. So what if China stops the loans for the Philippines infrastructure projects? Traffic bottlenecks will not kill us but we can die from international embarrassment from allowing our country to be used as a doormat by a foreign power. It’s bad enough that the Philippines is being used as a dumping ground for other countries’ garbage.
Incidentally, we heard that Sal Panelo sing at a hotel inauguration and he has a wonderful voice that surprised many of the guests. Maybe he should consider a career change from presidential spokesman to professional singer.