DND: Chinese ship hit, sank PH vessel in West PH Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   June 12, 2019   •   3552

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday revealed that a Philippine boat sank on Sunday night (June 9) following a collision with a Chinese vessel in the waters off the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denounced the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for leaving the scene immediately after the collision, endangering the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen onboard the F/B GIMVER1.

“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,” Lorenzana said.

“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,” he added.

According to Lorenzana, the F/B GIMVER1 was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel.

A Vietnamese fishing vessel in the area rescued the Filipino crew in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command.

“We thank the captain and crew of Vietnamese vessel, for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew,” the defense chief said.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which was in the area for a routine maritime patrol, has been tasked to assist in the recovery of the vessel and its crew.

Lorenzana also called for a formal investigation into the incident and requested concerned agencies to take diplomatic steps against China.

“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,” he said.

The Philippines and China have long been involved in a maritime dispute over territories in the West Philippine Sea.

READ: Duterte tells China: Back off from Pag-asa island

Hundreds of suspected Chinese maritime militia boats have also been spotted in the disputed waterways in the past months, which have made headlines amid the territorial row between Manila and Beijing.

Lawmaker calls on gov’t to scrap contracts with Chinese firms involved in militarization of WPS

Marje Pelayo   •   August 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros urges the government to scrap all contracts with Chinese companies that are involved in constructions of military structures and other establishments in the West Philippine Sea. 

This follows the move by the United States government to blacklist a total of 24 Chinese firms that are helping the Chinese military in establishing artificial islands and militarized the disputed territory in the South China Sea and China’s alleged missile launches in the island. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin previously announced that he would recommend that the Philippine government cut business ties with Chinese companies if proven that they are involved in the militarization activities in the West Philippine Sea.

Hontiveros argued that it is alarming to know that the Philippine government is dealing with Chinese firms that destroy the country’s own territory. 

The lady senator claimed that several subsidiaries of the China Communications Construction Company Limited that were among the companies the US government blacklisted, have existing Memorandum of Understanding with the Philippine government particularly in infrastructure projects in Manila, Davao City, Cebu and Clark in Pampanga.

Among these projects include:

  • Davao Coastline and Port Development Project
  • Manila Harbour Center Reclamation Project
  • Cebu International and Bulk Terminal Project
  • Manila-Clark Railway

Additionally, the Chinese firm China Harbor Engineering Company has won the bidding in the construction of an access road to New Clark City. 

Hontiveros said these projects must stop.

“Hindi pwedeng magpatuloy ang mga proyektong ito. [These projects must stop.] If we continue with these deals, it may be equivalent to giving up our territories,” Hontiveros said.

Meanwhile, the group Akbayan urges President Rodrigo Duterte to reveal to the public all Chinese-loaned contracts that his administration has entered into.

“A comprehensive debt audit of all Chinese loans is necessary to determine if these loan agreements are legitimate, don’t carry unjust conditionalities that could undermine our country’s sovereignty, territory, economy and security, and not the result of questionable transactions,” Akbayan Chairman Emeritus and former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Etta Rosales said. 

Malacañang is yet to respond on the matter. MNP (with details from Harlene Delgado)

US imposes visa restrictions on Chinese nationals involved in militarization of South China Sea

Marje Pelayo   •   August 27, 2020

The United States announced on Wednesday (August 26) that it is imposing visa restrictions on Chinese nationals involved in militarization activities in the South China Sea.

“The United States supports a free and open South China Sea,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“We respect the sovereign rights of all nations, regardless of size, and seek to preserve peace and uphold freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law,” he added.

The US official specified restricting Chinese nationals who were “responsible for, or complicit in, either the large-scale reclamation, construction, or militarization of disputed outposts in the South China Sea or the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) use of coercion against Southeast Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resources.”

Pompeo further said that “These individuals will now be inadmissible into the United States, and their immediate family members may be subject to these visa restrictions as well.”

In addition, the Department of Commerce has added 24 PRC state-owned enterprises to the Entity List, including several subsidiaries of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).

Likewise, workers of 24 People’s Republic of China (PRC) state-owned enterprises to the Entity List, including subsidiaries of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and their immediate family members are also not allowed to enter any US domain.

Pompeo said the United States will act until Beijing discontinues its coercive behavior in the South China Sea.

“We will continue to stand with allies and partners in resisting this destabilizing activity. continue to stand with allies and partners in resisting this destabilizing activity,” the official concluded.

Navy confirms BRP Ramon Alcaraz fire

Maris Federez   •   May 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines— The Philippine Navy has confirmed the fire incident that took place onboard BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS16) on Thursday night (May 7) just a few hours after it departed Port of Cochin, India bound for Manila.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Navy said the vessel was in convoy with BRP Davao del Sur (LD602).

Naval Public Affairs Office Acting Director, LCdr. Maria Christina Roxas, said initial investigation showed that the fire that broke at the main engine room was put out in 10 minutes but injured two personnel with second degree burns and caused minor damage in some equipment.

“This unfortunate incident could have been worse if not for the promptness of our PN personnel in responding to the fire incident. We recognize the gallant efforts of our personnel in responding to the emergency situation in spite of the dangers involved. Rest assured that the safety and welfare of our personnel is of paramount importance,” Roxas added.

One of the two sailors who were injured in the fire is now receiving treatment in an Indian medical facility, while the other is in sickbay aboard the vessel.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, in a statement released on Saturday, said the vessel has returned to Cochin, India, reaching the port under its own power and unassisted as it only sustained minor damage.

He added that the US Navy’s Naval Systems Command (NAVSEA) will assist in the repair of the BRP Alcaraz since the vessel was acquired from the US.

“We will also use existing diplomatic mechanisms and our defense cooperation agreement with India to facilitate and expedite work on the ship so that it can return to the country in the shortest time possible,” Lorenzana concluded. —/mbmf

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