PH wants China to sanction ship crew for sinking Filipino fishing boat

Marje Pelayo   •   June 13, 2019   •   2714

Still image of disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea taken from US Navy surveillance video May 21, 2015. REUTERS/US Navy

MANILA, Philippines – 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.

“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,” Lorenzana said Wednesday (June 12).

The incident happened on June 9 when a Chinese vessel hit and sank a Filipino vessel near the Recto Bank, a territory in dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

Lorenzana said the Philippines denounced the actions of the Chinese crew as they immediately left the scene and abandoned the Filipino crewmen instead of helping them.

Reports said the F/B GIMVER 1 was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel.

Lorenzana thanked the crewmen of a Vietnamese fishing vessel near the incident for saving the distressed Filipino crewmen in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which was on routine maritime patrol in the area, was sent to rescue the Filipinos.

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

“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,” he added.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, called the Chinese crewmen’s action as “uncivilised as it is outrageous”.

Panelo said, the Chinese crew should have at least saved the Filipino crewmen even despite the existing territorial dispute between China and the Philippines.

“Regardless of the nature of the collision, whether it was accidental or intentional, common decency and the dictates of humanity require the immediate saving of the crew of the downed Philippine vessel,” he said.

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

“We call on the appropriate Chinese authorities to probe the collision and impose the proper sanctions to the Chinese crew,” he said.                            

Malacañang assured that concerned agencies are now providing assistance to the Filipino crewmen who were rescued from the incident. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

China detains employee of British consulate in Hong Kong

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang confirming detention of Chinese national working at Britain’s Hong Kong consulate, Simon Cheng | Courtesy: Reuters

A Chinese national working at Britain’s Hong Kong consulate has been detained in China’s border city of Shenzhen for violating the law, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday (August 21), likely worsening already strained ties between Beijing and London.

Simon Cheng did not return to work on Aug. 9 after visiting the neighbouring mainland city of Shenzhen the previous day, Hong Kong news website HK01 reported.

Cheng’s family confirmed his disappearance in a Facebook post on Tuesday (August 20) night, saying he travelled from Hong Kong to Shenzhen on the morning of Aug. 8 for a business trip.

Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Cheng had been detained for 15 days by Shenzhen police for violating public security management regulations, though he gave no details.

“He is not a UK citizen. In other words that means he’s Chinese, so it’s entirely an internal matter for China,” Geng said.

“We’ve made stern representations to Britain for the series of comments and actions they’ve made on Hong Kong,” he added.

Britain has said it is “extremely concerned” by reports that the staff member at the consulate in its former colony had been detained.

Hong Kong has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, with Beijing accusing Britain and other Western countries of meddling in its affairs. (Reuters)

(Production: Martin Pollard)

Lorenzana wants to deploy new PH Navy ship to Sulu, Palawan seas

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – If Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had his way, the country’s newly-acquired vessel BRP Conrado Yap will be deployed to Palawan and Sulu seas.

Lorenzana said this on Tuesday on the sidelines of the welcome ceremony for the BRP Conrado Yap, a Pohang-class corvette donated by South Korea, at the Manila South Harbor.

“Kung ako, baka siguro sa Palawan and the Sulu seas,” he said. “It depends on the Navy how soon they can bring that to the south,” he added.

The BRP Conrado Yap arrived in the Philippines several weeks after it was handed over by South Korea during a ceremony at Jinhae Naval Base on August 5. The corvette was used by South Korea from 1987 to 2016 as Republic of Korea Navy ship Chungju (PCC-762).

READ: PH welcomes newly-acquired warship BRP Conrado Yap

The 32-year old warship is regarded as the Philippine Navy’s “most powerful ship” to date because of its torpedo launchers and sonars that are capable of detecting submarine and other potential underwater threats.

The Philippine Navy believes the addition of the heavily armed vessel will provide significant boost to its capability in patrolling and safeguarding the country’s territorial limits.

It will also serve as transition platform in empowering and upgrading Filipino sailors’ knowledge and skills in handling such high-level and advanced equipment/vessel especially with the impending delivery of modern frigates in the next two years, the Philippine Navy added.

The acquisition of the vessel follows the concern raised by the Philippine Military on the series of uncoordinated passage of Chinese warships within the country’s waters, including the Tawi-Tawi’s Sibutu Strait near the Sulu Sea and Palawan.

A diplomatic protest has been filed by Manila on the incursion of Beijing’s vessels.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte also issued a directive requiring all foreign vessels to secure a clearance when passing the Philippine waters. (RRD with details from correspondent Joan Nano)

Defense chief lauds Duterte order on foreign vessels entering PH waters

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

One of the anti-submarine vessels which docked at Pier 15 South Harbor, Manila.

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to require foreign vessels to first secure a clearance from the government before entering the Philippine waters.

“That is a very good development. At least now we have some authority to enforce our laws within our territorial waters,” Lorenzana said Tuesday.

Earlier, Duterte, through spokesman Salvador Panelo, issued a directive for all foreign vessels to provide notification and get clearance from proper government authority in advance of the actual passage. He also warned foreign vessels that Manila will either get compliance in a friendly manner or enforce it in an unfriendly manner.

READ: Duterte warns foreign ships to get clearance before entering PH waters

When asked to elaborate, Panelo explained that by saying ‘unfriendly,’ it means blocking entry to any foreign vessels intruding in the Philippine territory.

He, however, clarified that the President’s order didn’t mean an automatic use of force against intruders.

“By that it means that we will ask them to move out of the place, that’s unfriendly, because before we never said anything, we just allow them, we just make protest, but this time, we will tell them, please get out of our territorial waters,” Panelo said.

Duterte’s order came after reports of Chinese warships that allegedly entered the Philippine territory, particularly in Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi, without permission from the government.

Lorenzana, for his part, could not say yet the “unfriendly option” the Philippine Military could use to ward of intruders into the country’s waters. The Defense chief said he will defer the matter to the Philippine Navy. (RRD with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

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