The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) thanked its Chinese counterparts for taking care of two Filipino fishermen who were rescued near the disputed Scarborough Shoal after their fishing boat capsized.
PCG spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo said they are hopeful that they can “continue to make use of this contact window mechanism” in future similar situations.
“This act demonstrates that the Philippines-China relationship is now back on friendly footing after the recent successful visit of President Duterte to China,” he said on Sunday.
Balilo added: “We expect the ties between the two countries to further improve in the years ahead.”
The two fishermen rescued from the Scarborough Shoal by a Chinese fishing vessel are on their way back to Manila after the Chinese Coast Guard turned them over to the PCG’s BRP Tubbataha.
Morrey Shiera and Lloyod Acquiot were successfully turned over to the PCG from the Chinese Coast Guard on Friday afternoon.
Balilo said two other fishermen who were part of the crew of a fishing boat, MBRS Lipay, are still missing. The missing fishermen were only known as a certain Gil, 59 and Manuel, 52.
Shiera and Acquiot were now on their way to Manila after the BRP Tubbataha received them from Chinese Coast Guard vessel 3501, which has been taking care of them.
The PCG said the BRP Tubbataha left for Scarborough Shoal on Thursday to rendezvous with Chinese Coast Guard vessel 3501 and receive the two Filipino fishermen.
At around 3 p.m. on Friday, the Filipino fishermen were successfully turned over to the PCG, Balilo said.
A Chinese fishing vessel plucked the two fishermen from the sea last month.
The fishermen, aboard MBRS Lipay, left Palauig, Zambales for Scarborough Shoal to fish on Nov. 18.
The MBRS Lipay was owned by a certain Roque Sandol of Palauig, Zambales.
Five days later, the mother vessel left the fishermen on three small boats in the shoal area to fish while the mother vessel returned to shore to unload their catch.