By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
China should take action on the Chinese vessel’s sinking of a Filipino fishing boat and abandonment of 22 fishermen in Recto Bank last June 9, Senator Grace Poe said on Thursday.
Poe, in an interview in Bulacan, said China’s response towards the incident would prove its sincerity in its friendship with the Philippines.
“Unang-una, para patunayan na talagang tapat ang ating pagkakaibigan sa China, siguro, mismong ang bansa nila ang dapat magsampa ng kaso doon sa mga gumawa na ‘yon. Para hindi panghihimasok, sila mismo ang magbigay ng tamang parusa kasi, akalain niyo, parang pinabayaan nilang mamatay doon ang ating mga mangingisda, iniwan na lang nila, at iba pang bansa, ang Vietnam pa ang sumaklolo sa kanila,” Poe lamented.
(First of all, to prove our friendship, China should be the one filing charges against the crew of the vessel responsible. So that it won’t be an intrusion by our country, they should be the one imposing appropriate sanctions, because, come to think of it, our fishermen were apparently left to die there, they just abandoned them, until Vietnam came to their rescue.)
While the Philippines must protest the incident, Poe said China should not keep silent.
“Ang unang hakbang dapat, mag-issue din sila ng statement kung anong gagawin nila doon sa mga gumawa no’ng pagsagasa doon sa bangka ng ating mga mangingisda (The first step is for China to issue a statement on what they would do about the hitting of our fishermen’s boat),” she said.
The Palace already called on China to probe and impose sanctions on the Chinese crew involved in the incident as it noted that the act was a violation of international maritime laws. It called the abandonment of the 22 Filipinos “inhuman as it is barbaric”.
On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin confirmed that he has already filed a diplomatic protest on the incident.
“Kailangan nating malaman kung ano ba talaga ang tunay na pakikitungo sa atin ng China. Tayo ba ay kaibigan nila. Hanggang ngayon wala pa silang ini-isyung statement. Walang apology, walang guarantee of an investigation,” Poe said.
“Kung tunay silang kaibigan at kung tunay ang hangarin nilang tapat doon sa West Philippine Sea na free maritime navigation, dapat sila mismo ang mag-imbestiga ng nangyari at parusahan nila ang sarili nilang mamamayan,” she added.
Meanwhile, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III also condemned the reported abandonment of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
“No matter who was at fault, the crew of a sinking ship must never be abandoned by an able ship. The rescue of all persons in distress at sea is not only an obligation under international maritime law, it is also a matter of humanitarian duty,” Pimentel said in a statement.
“Under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), there is a general obligation to proceed to the assistance of ships in distress. Logic dictates that such duty becomes more pronounced if it is your ship that caused the distress. In this case, there was a total breach of that duty to help,” he added.