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Ping to gov’t: Prioritize sovereignty in joint PH-China Recto bank incident probe

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If it wants to enter into a joint investigation into the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese vessel, the Philippine government should at least make sure the issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity are addressed.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Sunday that allowing a joint investigation with China and a third party may be interpreted as a waiver of our right of ownership of Recto Bank.

“While the intention of this administration may be laudable in trying to preserve our country’s bilateral relations with China, presumably for political and economic reasons in order to uplift the living standards of our people, we should also consider the more important issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said in a statement.

“At the very least, that must be clearly addressed during the conduct of the joint investigation,” he added.

In a separate tweet, Lacson said the 2016 Hague ruling expressly states that Recto Bank is part of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Considering that the EEZ belongs to the Philippines, he said allowing a joint probe may raise this question: “Are we waiving ownership of Recto Bank?”

Earlier, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte wants a joint investigating committee that shall be composed of three groups of highly qualified and competent individuals.

Panelo said the panel will have one representative each from the Philippines and China, and a third member coming from a neutral country.

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