President Duterte showed his gratitude by thanking the captain and crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel for saving the Filipino fishermen near Recto (Reed) Bank at the West Philippine Sea recently.
Duterte was in Bangkok, Thailand for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit when he thanked the Vietnamese crew through Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The President stated that the Philippines and its people will always remember this act of kindness and compassion.
In an earlier report, the narration given by boat captain Nguyen Than Tamh who gave refuge to Filipinos left to drown by a Chinese vessel that rammed and sunk their boat appeared consistent with the account given by the Filipino fishermen.
Tam said that while his boat was anchored off Truong Sa Islands in the Spratlys at about 1 a.m., he and his crew heard voices of foreigners. Using their flashlights to check where the sounds were coming from, they saw two men making hand signals as if asking for urgent help.
At first, the boat captain was apprehensive since the foreigners could be pirates. When he noticed that the men were both soaking wet and shivering, Tam thought that they might have had an accident at sea.
Making use of hand gestures, the two rescued Filipinos pointed the Vietnamese to the direction of Recto Bank, which was about five nautical miles away.
It took about an hour for the Vietnamese boat to reach the place where the rest of the Filipinos, numbering about 20, were found wearing life jackets and clinging to plastic barrels and pieces of wood from their sunken boat F/B GEM-VER.
The kindhearted Vietnamese fed the hungry and shaking Filipinos instant noodles and rice, and provided them with warm materials.
The Vietnamese captain’s depiction appeared consistent with the narration given by the Filipino boat captain, Junel Insigne, who said he dispatched two of his crewmen to find help in a location where they spotted light some five miles away.
The Vietnamese failed to mention having seen other Filipino boats in the area, which ran counter to the Chinese government’s statement that the Chinese vessel tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen but got scared of being besieged by several Filipino boats.
The Filipinos only knew the nationality of their rescuers when they mentioned “Vietnam, Philippines, friends”. They admitted that they would have all died had it not been for the help of the Vietnamese.
Angels appear in different forms at different times to do God’s work.
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Editor’s Note: Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin’s tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, at age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, the online news site Beyond Deadlines, and now for THEPHILBIZNEWS.COM. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012. His column appearing here regularly will be written in Filipino on Tuesdays and in English on Thursdays.