By Roy Mabasa
The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest over the sinking of a Filipino fishing vessel off Reed Bank or Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea on June 9.
“I fired off a diplomatic protest yesterday (Wednesday, June 12). The Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO (International Maritime Organization) is it,” Foreign Affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin said in a tweet on Thursday noon.
Responding to a Twitter post of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV urging the government to refer the case to the IMO where both the Philippines and China are State parties, Locsin said: “Sonny (Trillanes), that I will proceed on the merits of the case and what it calls for while the matter is studied by the IMO. Even our ally failed us in Scarborough, remember?”
IMO is a United Nations specialized agency whose main role is setting a global standard authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping.
Locsin’s announcement on the filing a diplomatic protest over the latest incident in the West Philippine Sea contradicted his tweet last night where he asked the public to wait for the West PH Task Force to submit its report to him “to give sort of facts on the basis of which I fire off diplomatic protests.”
Locsin flew to Geneva on Wednesday and was reportedly airborne when reports of the sinking of a Filipino fishing vessel in the West Philippine Sea came out.
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana strongly denounced the action of the Chinese fishing vessel for abandoning the Filipino crew, even as he called for a formal investigation and “diplomatic steps be taken” to prevent the repetition of such incident.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command described the sinking incident as “far from accidental.”