By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter

THE Philippines and China will conduct separate inquiries on the June 9 sinking of a Filipino boat near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said, Friday.

“There will be NO joint investigation. China and Philippines will conduct their respective investigations,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said in a social media post, Friday.

The remarks followed Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra’s recommendation for a joint inquiry on the incident, which left 22 Filipino fishermen abandoned at sea until their rescue by a Vietnamese vessel.

Likewise, the Chinese government, through Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang, recommended a joint investigation, which the Palace considered as a “possibility.”

“The main focus for DFA is what is clearest of all — the abandonment of fishermen to the elements whether deliberately or accidentally caused,” Mr. Locsin said in a separate post.

Mr. Locsin also said this matter is the concern of the DFA, the Department of National Defense (DND) and the National Security Council. “I’ve stated my view of this proposal; DFA will act on MY VIEW & no one else’s. I talked to ES (Executive Secretary Salvador C.) Medialdea; Palace supports me. That’s that,” he said.

“Also I listen only to the DND and NSA (National Security Adviser). This is a matter beyond civilian agencies’ remit and falls well within the DFA’s, DND’s & NSA’s. Period.”

For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo responded to Senator Panfilo M. Lacson’s describing him as the “defense counsel of China.”

“The perception that my pointing out certain circumstances surrounding the Reed Bank incident previously unknown to us creates the impression that I’m acting as China’s counsel is sheer non sequitur as well as a shallow analysis of my examination of the incident,” Mr. Panelo said in a statement, Friday.

Former President and outgoing House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her part told reporters, “I support President Duterte because he knows what he’s doing. And he wants to be friends with China and at the same time of course, he is promoting the national interest. Which is also my attitude.”

“We want to be friends with China but the parameters is also national interest. That is the same parameter that President Duterte is espousing, so I support fully whatever will be his action there.” — with Vince Angelo C. Ferreras