Boat accident in disputed waters tests Chinese-Philippine relationship

Lester Mason
June 14, 2019

"Such act of desertion is inhuman", Panelo said in a statement, adding the Chinese crew violated worldwide protocols that require them to assist a vessel in distress.

The fishing boat that was anchored was hit by a suspected Chinese vessel which then abandoned the 22 Filipino fishermen as it sank in the disputed sea.

One senator, Ana Theresia Risa Hontiveros called on President Rodrigo Duterte "to immediately order the recall of our ambassador and all our consuls in China, "the Manila Times reported".

The incident occured on June 9, which happened to be the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he filed the protest Wednesday.

"Whether it's a form of bullying or not, it's outrageous, it's barbaric, it's uncivilized and we're condemning it", Panelo said.

Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana has called for a diplomatic action in relation to the sea collision between a Chinese vessel and a Filipino fishing boat (F/B GIMVER 1) that left 22 Filipino fishermen adrift in the middle of the sea.

"First, magdidoplomatic protest ka, kung hindi ka kuntento sa paliwanag nila at nakita natin na talagang sinadya, e ibang usapan yun", he added, noting that authorities are still investigating the incident.

Panelo joins Lorenzana in calling for an investigation and sanction against the Chinese crewmen for their actions.

In Beijing on Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang dismissed Philippine concerns, and described the collision and sinking as a "commonplace maritime incident".

Since Duterte's election in mid-2016, the Philippines has pivoted towards China, often setting aside a July 2016 ruling by the Hague that rejected China's sea claims. "This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people".

The Philippine coast guard said it was checking whether those involved were Chinese fishermen or from other neighboring countries such as Vietnam and if the collision was intentional.

The Vietnamese ship was passing by the area and were able to rescue the Filipinos, who had no access to communication networks and could not call for help.

Philippine officials say Reed Bank lies well within their country's exclusive economic zone, an internationally recognized stretch of water where coastal states have exclusive rights to fisheries, undersea oil and gas deposits and other resources.

The F/B Gimver 1 had been anchored "when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel", he said, indicating it may have been rammed.

Duterte, who in a pivot to Beijing set aside the global arbitral ruling won by Manila, has recently been more critical of the regional power's incursions, earlier this year, threatening "suicide attacks" following reports that Chinese vessels had surrounded Philippine-held Pag-asa (Thitu) Island.

There has been a recent history of Chinese ships blocking Philippine military and civilian vessels at Reed Bank and nearby Second Thomas Shoal, where Philippine marines keep watch on board a long-marooned Philippine navy ship while being constantly watched by Chinese coast guard ships in a years-long standoff. China has refused to recognize the decision.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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