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Sea collision in Recto Bank may mar PH-China relations

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte was “outraged” by the incident in Recto Bank on June 9, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, when a Chinese vessel hit and sank a Filipino fishing boat and just abandoned 22 Filipino fishermen in the middle of the sea.

Panelo in a statement said that such action by Chinese crew members is not what humanity dictates, calling it “uncivilized” and “outrageous”.

Panelo said the incident may lead to a diplomatic rift between the Philippines and China if the Chinese government will not act on sanctioning the offending crewmen.

“Ano’ng (what) step? We will cut our diplomatic relations,” Panelo warned.

“Iyan ang unang ginagawa pag may aggressive acts. First may diplomatic protests ka. Kung di ka kuntento sa paliwanag nila at nakita nating sinadya, ibang usapan na iyon. Our responses will always be calibrated depende sa degree. But definitely, we will not allow ourselves to be assaulted, to be bullied,” he explained.

(That’s the first thing we do with aggressive acts. First, you file a diplomatic protest. If you’re not contented with their explanation and if the act is intentional, that’s a different thing. Our responses will always be calibrated depending on degree. But definitely, we will not allow ourselves to be assaulted, to be bullied.)

Panelo insists that China must act on the matter by investigating and bringing to justice all of its nationals involved in the incident.

“We call the Chinese government to probe the incident and to impose punitive actions against those at fault,” he stressed.

President Duterte in April emphasized that he may allow Chinese vessel near Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea but he will not let it pass if their stay is already causing harm to the Filipinos in the area.

“Kapag iyan ang ginalaw ninyo, ibang istorya na iyan. Sabihan ko na ‘yang mga sundalo ko, ‘prepare for suicide missions,’” President Duterte said on April 4, 2019.

(If you hurt [my people] that’s a different story. I will tell my soldiers to prepare for suicide missions.)- with reports from Rosalie Coz

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China holds ‘serious’ investigation on sea collision in Recto Bank

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019

The Chinese government is conducting its own investigation on the sea collision that involved Chinese crewmen abandoning Filipino fishermen after the former hit the latter’s fishing boat in the evening of June 9 in Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua in a text message to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the issue “is being thoroughly and seriously investigated.”

“We share your concerns about fishermen,” Zhao said.

“If it were true that it was a Chinese fishing boat which did it, they would be duly educated and punished for their irresponsible behavior. Incidents happen even in the best-regulated family,” he added.

The Chinese Ambassador also hopes that the incident will be held in a ‘proper context’.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang, meanwhile, said what happened was just ‘an ordinary maritime accident’.

He acknowledged, however, that abandoning a person in dire need of rescue is unacceptable.

“If the relevant situation turns out to be true, irrespective of which country the perpetrators come from, abandoning (others) should be condemned,” he said.

“China will continue to investigate this incident based on its responsible attitude towards the physical safety and safety of property of the people of both countries and will work with the Philippine side to properly handle,” he concluded.

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Senators on West PH Sea collision: ‘A huge insult’ to Filipinos

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Several senators have condemned the reported collision of a Chinese vessel and a Filipino vessel on Sunday (June 9), deeming it ‘a huge insult’ to Filipinos.

Sen. Joel Villanueva called the actions of the Chinese crew as irresponsible after they left the 22 Filipino crewmen in the West Philippine Sea.

“We strongly condemn the irresponsible actions of the Chinese vessel’s crew. Saving the lives of fellow seafarers should be top priority regardless of nationality or flag. The incident shows the need for greater accountability and enforcement of international laws in the West Philippine Sea,” he said in his statement.

READ: Locsin files diplomatic protest vs China after West PH Sea collision

Senators Franklin Drilon shares the same sentiment with Senator Panfilo Lacson. They are both questioning the friendly relationship between China and the Philippines.

Senator Lacson calls for a talk between the country’s leaders.

“This incident calls for a leader-to-leader talk. As I said, nothing short of serious punitive action by the Chinese government against those responsible can convince us of a real friendly relationship between our peoples,” he said.

According to Director, Institute for Maritime Affairs & Law of the Sea- University of the Philippines Prof. Jay Batongbacal this is not the first time a Chinese vessel hit another country’s fishing vessel.

“Marami itong beses na nangyari sa Vietnam binabangga ng mga Chinese vessel iyong mga Vietnamese fishing vessel, (It had occurred numerous times in Vietnam where a Chinese vessel hit a Vietnamese fishing vessel)” he said.

Batongbacal also seeks accountability for what happened. He said that the Filipino crewmen should be given compensation.

“Kung hindi tayo aalma, kung palalampasin natin ito baka ang susunod na diyan lahat ng ating mga mangingisda diyan sa West Philippine sea ay gaganyanin din, babanggain, iha-harass hanggang sa umalis na tayo sa West Philippine Sea, (If we will not protest, they might also target other fishermen in the West Philippine Sea. They might harass us until we leave the West Philippine Sea)” Batongbacal added.(with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

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)

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