JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said 22 Filipino fishermen from Oriental Mindoro, whose fishing vessel MV Gem-Ver was sank by a Chinese vessel near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea last year, are entitled to about P12 million in civil damages from the owner of the Chinese vessel.
“The total estimated civil damages amount to something like P12 million plus the cost of the repair of the fishing boat, lost income or wages for a period of six months,” Guevarra said in an interview with CNN Philippines, quoting the estimate of prosecutors in Occidental Mindoro whom he tasked to determine the compensation.
He did say how much each of the fishermen would receive. He added the owner of MV Gem-Ver and the fishermen also asked for moral damages.
He said the compensation estimate has been forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs which will then forward it to the Chinese government.
“We’ll just be waiting for the reaction of the Chinese government on the matter of payment of the civil damages,” he said.
The Chinese vessel immediately left the area on June 9 last year after it rammed the Filipino fishing boat, in violation of international maritime rules.
The fishermen were rescued after several hours by a Vietnamese vessel.
Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the justice department will determine the damages due the Filipino fishermen because the boat belongs to a private company. He also said the Philippines and China agreed that the Chinese vessel was at fault.
President Duterte was criticized for downplaying the sinking which he said was a “little maritime accident.”