MALACANANG promised on Monday a “fair and thorough” investigation into a sea chase incident which led to the death of two Vietnamese fishermen on Saturday.
In a press conference, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), was in touch with the Vietnamese Embassy in Manila to provide updates on the incident.
“Authorities are now conducting a fair and thorough investigation into the incident involving a Philippine Navy vessel and Vietnamese fishing boats which were seen fishing 34-nautical miles off Bolinao, Pangasinan, well within exclusive economic zone,” Abella said.
“The incident led to the death of two Vietnamese nationals and the DFA is closely coordinating with the officials of the Vietnamese embassy in Manila to update them on the developments and to facilitate their access to the five other Vietnamese fishermen taking on the custody by the Philippine Navy,” he added.
The Northern Luzon Command said it chased the Vietnamese who evaded arrest for fishing illegally in waters off Bolinao, Pangasinan.
The foreigners allegedly fought naval authorities, prompting a shootout.
The bodies of the two Vietnamese nationals were brought to a morgue, while their five companions were taken into custody by the Bolinao police.
In a statement, the DFA said Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano informed his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Binh Minh, of the incident during a meeting at the United Nations in New York.
Cayetano assured Minh that the five other Vietnamese fishermen would be treated well and could be visited anytime by their officials in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
“We would like to offer our sympathies over the unfortunate loss of life and give you our assurance that we will conduct a fair and thorough investigation into this matter,” Cayetano said. CATHERINE S. VALENTE, JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA