The Philippines has condemned the “cowardly action” of a Chinese fishing vessel accused of abandoning 22 Filipino fishermen after a collision in the South China Sea.
The ship hit a Filipino craft anchored near Reed Bank — claimed by both Manila and Beijing — causing it to sink and leaving its crewmen “to the mercy of the elements”, said defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana today (Wednesday, June 12).
“We condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the suspected Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew,” he said in a statement.
“This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people.”
Lorenzana has now called for an investigation into Sunday’s collision, and for “diplomatic steps” to prevent a repeat of the incident.
Meanwhile, defence department spokesman Arsenio Andolong said it had not yet been fully confirmed that the vessel was Chinese-registered. However, it was identified as such by the stricken Filipino crew.
Lorenzana has also thanked the crew of a Vietnamese fishing boat which came to the rescue of the fishermen.
Senators have also condemned the apparent inhumane act of the Chinese fishermen.
Outgoing Senator Francis Escudero said he joined Lorenzana in his condemnation in the strongest possible terms: “The actions — and lack of it — of the Chinese vessel, its captain and crew, especially in leaving the 22-man Filipino crew who would have perished were it not for the Vietnamese vessel who saved them.
“I call on the Navy, Coast Guard, and the Department of Foreign Affairs to investigate the incident and to hold the captain and crew of the Chinese vessel liable and accountable.”
Senator Francis Pangilinan urged the government to reverse its “policy of subservience and appeasement” to China and file a diplomatic protest.
He said: “We condemn the illegal acts committed by the Chinese vessel. We denounce the inhumane and cruel act of abandoning 22 human lives in the high seas.
“No self-respecting nation in the world will stay meek and docile in the face of such cruelty and aggression.”
National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s full statement on the incident:
A collision between a Chinese and Filipino vessel (F/B GIMVER 1) was reported by Filipino fishermen near the Recto Bank in the West Philippine on the evening of June 9, 2019. The collision sank the Filipino vessel.
We denounce the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for immediately leaving the scene of the incident, abandoning the 22 Filipino crewmen to the mercy of the elements. The F/B GIMVER 1 was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel.
Fortunately, a Vietnamese fishing vessel was in the vicinity and rescued all 22 fishermen and brought them to safety in coordination with the AFP’s Western Command. The BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which was conducting a routine maritime patrol in the area, was ordered to assist in the recovery of F/B GIMVER 1 and its crew.
We thank the captain and crew of Vietnamese vessel, for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew. However, we condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the suspected Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew. This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people.
We call for the conduct of a formal investigation on the matter and for diplomatic steps be taken to prevent a repeat of this incident.
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