MANILA — Malacañang asked Chinese authorities on Wednesday to sanction the crew of a Chinese fishing vessel, who allegedly abandoned a sinking Filipino fishing boat after a recent “collision” in Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said that the Filipino vessel F/B GIMVER 1 was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel on June 9.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it supports the view of Lorenzana who denounced the Chinese crew’s actions and called for a probe on the incident.
“We call on the appropriate Chinese authorities to probe the collision and impose the proper sanctions to the Chinese crew,” Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo said that whether the collision was accidental or intentional, “common decency and the dictates of humanity require the immediate saving of the crew of the downed Philippine vessel.”
He described the abandonment of the Chinese crew as “uncivilized and outrageous”, noting that the crew of the Chinese vessel should not have left the injured party without any assistance.
“The safety of the crew of the damaged Filipino vessel should have been the uppermost thought and helping them should have been the natural reaction of the crew of the other vessel,” he added.
Panelo said the “barbaric” abandonment is a “crystal-clear violation of maritime protocols” and “infringement of internationally accepted practice of assisting a vessel in distress.”
He emphasized that the Chinese crew should have offered assistance to the Filipino fishermen regardless of the ongoing sea dispute with the Philippines.
“The present territorial conflict between the countries of the two colliding vessels pertaining to the area where the collision occurred is not — and cannot be an impediment for the offending vessel to lend a hand to the distressed crew,” Panelo said.
Panelo, meanwhile, assured that government continues to provide aid to the Filipino crewmen who were rescued from the collision.
He also thanked the Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity, whose crew rescued the 22 Filipino fishermen.
“We express our sincere gratitude to the seamen of a Vietnamese vessel who rendered relief services to the distressed Filipino fishermen following the collision,” Panelo said.
The Philippines, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan have overlapping claims on the South China Sea.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines’ and invalidated Chinese “nine-dash” line claim which covers most of the contested waters. Azer Parrocha / PNA – northboundasia.com