By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to seek the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regarding the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel last June 9.
Trillanes made the appeal as he expressed alarm over the supposed collision between the Chinese and Filipino vessels near the Recto Bank in the West Philippines Sea (WPS) on Sunday. The crew of the Chinese craft reportedly abandoned 22 Filipino fishermen at sea while their boat sank.
“This is a very alarming situation that could further escalate tensions in the WPS,” Trillanes said in a statement.
The senator, who was once assigned as the Philippines’ backdoor negotiator to China amid the territorial dispute in the West Philippines Sea, also appealed to authorities to shed light on what really happened.
But aside from the investigation of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Trillanes recommended to DFA Sec. Teodoro Locsin to raise the incident before the Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO.
He noted that the Philippines and China are both state parties to the IMO.
“This way, a dispassionate, independent and objective investigation would be conducted on the matter and its recommendations would be binding under international law,” he stressed.
The Philippine government has denounced the “barbaric” desertion of the Chinese vessel after it hit the Filipino fishermen’s boat. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo called on China to punish the Chinese crew involved in the incident.
Locsin, on Thursday, said he has already filed a diplomatic protest on the incident.
Senators, meanwhile, questioned China’s sincerity in its alliance with the Philippines.