A possible joint investigation by the Philippines and China on the sinking of a Filipino boat in disputed waters will help open communication lines with Beijing and serve justice to the ship’s crew, a Palace official said Friday.

The joint inquiry, which was proposed by China, is “better than being stuck,” said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

“This joint investigation will also help us in terms of communicating with the Chinese government on how we will attain justice for our fishermen,” said Nograles.

The Filipino vessel sank after it was hit by a Chinese boat in disputed waters off Reed Bank on June 9. The Chinese left the scene and 22 Filipino fishermen were rescued by a Vietnamese boat.

The Department of Foreign Affairs will advise President Rodrigo Duterte on the matter, Nograles said.

Nograles said President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier statement that it was a maritime incident would not affect investigations.

“I think what the president said in his speech was in the context for us not to be jumping into conclusion that this was state sanctioned by the Chinese government,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Thursday morning that the Philippines and China would undertake separate investigations.

This article was originally published on ABS-CBN News on June 21, 2019.

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