The Filipino owner and crew of sunken fishing boat Gem-Vir 1 is seeking over P12 million in damages from China, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday (Sept. 17).
“The total estimated civil damages would be something like a little more than P12 million,” said Guevarra during an interview over CNN Philippines.
The secretary said Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors has already submitted the report on the amount after having visited the owner and crew of Gem-Vir 1.
“We have submitted this estimate to the Department of Foreign Affairs as requested by them quite recently,” he added.
Meanwhile, Guevarra expects that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will “forward this estimate to the Chinese government side.”
“We will just be waiting for the reaction of the Chinese government on the matter of payment of the civil damages,” he said.
Gem-Vir 1 was sunk on June 9, 2019 after being rammed by a Chinese fishing vessel in Reed Bank, also known as the Recto Bank, in the West Philippine Sea.
The Chinese fishing vessel fled which left the crew of Gem-Vir 1 stranded until they got rescued and returned Philippine shores.
On the other hand, Guevarra defended why it only took the Department of Justice (DOJ) just recently to submit the report to the DFA.
“Merong miscommunication (There has been miscommunication) between us and the DFA kasi (because) we were not been directed before to get this information,” DOJ chief said.
“Ang DOJ and trabaho niyan is criminal prosecution, criminal investigation. So yung mga civil damages do not really pertain to us (The job of the DOJ is criminal prosecution and investigation. So civil damages does not concern us),” he explained.
After being made aware that there is a DFA request to the DOJ to provide assistance, Guevarra said “we provided that assistance.”
“I directed yung mga prosecutors namin in that particular place I think in Mindoro Occidental to gather the statements of the fishermen and owner of the vessel and find out from them kung ano yung kanilang losses or damages obtained (I directed our prosecutors in Mindoro Occidental to gather the statements of the fishermen and owner of the vessel and find out the losses or damages obtained),” he said.
“From their report the total estimated civil damages amounts to something like P12 million plus for the repair of the fishing boat that was rammed by the Chinese vessel, also for loss income or wages for a period of six months. And these fishermen and the owner of the vessel also asked for moral damages,” Guevarra cited the report.