Fil-Chinese group: No strings attached

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Rescued Filipino fishermen transfer to another ship as they head back to shore in Occidental Mindoro province, Philippines on Friday June 14, 2019. The Philippines' top diplomat said he has filed a diplomatic protest after an anchored fishing boat was hit by a suspected Chinese vessel which then abandoned the 22 Filipino fishermen as the boat sank in the disputed South China Sea. (AP Photo)

The Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) offered assistance to 22 fishermen but quickly explained it is not an admission of China’s guilt regarding the West Philippine Sea collision last 9 June.

In a press conference on Sunday, FFCCCII president Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong said they extend assistance to the Filipino fishermen whose livelihood is put on hold while the investigation on the Recto Bank incident is ongoing.

Lim said that while both countries are still “ascertaining what really happened,” FFCCCII will focus on what “sincere assistance and support” they can extend to the fishermen to contribute to their “immediate rehabilitation.”

The FFCCCII head said Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago L. Sta. Romana also suggested that they give aid to the fishermen.

Meanwhile, on Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s statement on the possibility of the Philippines and China cutting off ties, Lim said the FFCCCII is willing to serve as a “bridge” between the two countries.

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“If it will happen, we will just do our duties to our two fathers (China and Philippines) on how we will repair the (diplomatic) relations,” Lim said.

Among the assistance that the FFCCCII will extend are rice supply for the fishermen until they are “fully rehabilitated” and rehabilitation of the vessel F/B Gem-Vir. It is coordinating with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on how to deliver the goods.

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