By Genalyn Kabiling and Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The Philippines has urged China to investigate the collision between a Chinese ship and a Filipino vessel in the West Philippine Sea and impose sanctions against the crewmen who deserted the distressed local fishermen.
The government deplored the “act of abandonment” by the Chinese vessel of the Filipino fishing crew as “uncivilized” and “outrageous,” according to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.
“We call on the appropriate Chinese authorities to probe the collision and impose the proper sanctions to the Chinese crew,” he said in a statement.
“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. 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 said.
A Filipino fishing vessel sank after being struck by a Chinese ship near Recto Bank last June 9. The 22 fishermen abandoned by the Chinese vessel were later rescued by a Vietnam-flagged ship.
Panelo said the Palace was “in parity” with the stance of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who has denounced the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel.
He insisted that the territorial conflict between the Philippines and China should “not be an
impediment” for the offending vessel to help the distressed fishermen.
The captain and the crew of the Chinese vessel should not have left the injured party without any assistance, Panelo added.
“Such act of desertion is inhuman as it is barbaric. It is crystal-clear violation of maritime protocols as well as an infringement of internationally accepted practice of assisting a vessel in distress,” he said.
Panelo assured that concerned government agencies were providing assistance to the Filipino crewmen who were rescued from the “unfortunate incident.”
The government likewise thanked the Vietnamese fishing vessel for rescuing the affected local 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 and China have been feuding over the ownership of parts of the South China Sea in recent years, with Manila raising concern about its reclamation works and military build-up in the disputed territory.
When he assumed office in 2016, President Duterte chose to pursue a bilateral dialogue with China to manage the territorial dispute while promoting closer economic and security ties. Recently, Duterte said he loved China but questioned its claim over the whole South China Sea.
In 2016, a United Nations-recognized tribunal nullified China’s excessive claims over the South China Sea but Beijing has refused to recognize the ruling.