Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles stressed that government is exerting efforts to obtain justice for the 22-man crew of F/B Gem-Vir I, the fishing boat that sank following an encounter with a private Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea, and that several government agencies would be reaching out to extend assistance to the Filipino fishermen.

In a statement issued following a joint meeting of the Economic Development and Security, Justice, and Peace clusters, Nograles explained that the objectives of the meeting were “the protection of our countrymen and the exercise of our nation’s rights in our Exclusive Economic Zone.”

The Palace offficial revealed that after the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Government was given “a strongly-worded diplomatic protest” on June 13, several government agencies conducted inquiries in order to determine the best way to hold the guilty parties accountable for the sinking of F/B Gem-Vir I.

“The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Region IV-B Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) have conducted initial inquiries regarding the incident to determine the extent of the liabilities involved and in order to ascertain the most effective legal means to obtain justice for our countrymen,” Nograles said.

“Initial inquiries have been conducted to ascertain the most effective legal means to obtain justice for our countrymen.”

“These efforts will be complemented by further investigations to be jointly led by the Maritime Authority and the Philippine Coast Guard,” he added. 

While the inquiries are ongoing, Nograles announced that Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi would oversee government assistance to be extended to the 22 crew members. 

“In the meantime, DA Sec. Manny Piñol has been designated Chairman of the government response focused primarily on assisting the 22 affected fishermen, with Region IV-B CORDS, DOE Sec. Alfonso Cusi as co-lead,” Nograles said.

“Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol has been designated chairman of the government response.”

“Sec. Piñol has been directed to tap all available government resources––including assistance from DA and DSWD––to assist our countrymen, with components of the support package to come from other government agencies,” he stressed.

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