The boat captain’s recent change of tune over the collision incident which left him and 21 other crew members in the middle of the South China Sea with a sunken ship is being perceived to be a result of pressure from government.
Secretary Emmanuel Piñol of the agriculture department leads the government response team to the tragic sinking of FB GEM-VER 1.
This new testimony came after Piñol held a closed-door meeting with the 22 shipwrecked crew members at the house of the boat owner in Occidental Mindoro last June 19.
Anti-riot police surrounded and guarded the house while the meeting was ongoing.
Insigne’s about-face was on at least two matters raised in his earlier statements:
1. About the supposed meeting with Duterte
Junel Insigne, who previously expressed dismay over officials’ response to a Chinese boat’s alleged ramming and abandonment of his fishing boat in a June 9 incident, apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte for thinking he was invited to meet him.
“Humihingi po ako ng paumanhin sa ating mahal na president na ‘di po pala siya ang nagpatawag sakin kundi si Secretary Piñol ang nagpatawag sa’kin,” Insigne said at the press conference.
“Umatras po ako dahil masama po pakiramdam ko,” he added.
2. About the China-flagged fishing boat
Insigne’s previous assertion on the origin of the ship that collided against theirs also turned less certain.
“Naguguluhan po ako dahil ‘pag ano ko po hindi ko pa naano kung talagang bangga na po eh. Masama po ang loob ko sa kanila dahil iniwan po kami,” he said.
Insigne then appealed diffidently to Duterte to mete out sanctions over the misdeed.
“Humihiling po ko sa ating mahal na presidente na sana po mapanagot po yung kapitan ng bumangga samin,” he said.
This apparent backpedaling on the part of Insigne led some Filipinos to suggest that the captain and his crew might have been coerced or pressured to change their narrative in favor of the government, whose response to the incident was seen as weak.
Twitter user @jason_bats noted on how the fishermen looked scared in the photo op with Piñol and other officials.