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US Ambassador Sung Kim: Maritime incident calls for responsible maritime behavior

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By Antonio Colina IV

DAVAO CITY – United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said on Tuesday that the sinking of the Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver1 at the Recto Bank after a Chinese vessel reportedly rammed it on the evening of June 9 should be a reminder that “there needs to be a responsible maritime behavior and activities that are consistent with the international law” and called on the Philippine and Chinese governments to investigate the incident and hold the responsible party accountable.

(Armando Fenequito Jr. / MANILA BULLETIN)

US Ambassador to the Philippines  Sung Kim (center)  (Armando Fenequito Jr. / MANILA BULLETIN)

Kim told reporters in a press conference at the Seda Abreeza Hotel that the Filipino and Chinese officials should investigate the incident to find out what happened amid the contradicting statements from the Chinese government which said the incident was a “regular maritime accident,” and the 22 Filipino fishermen who claimed that their boat sank after being hit by the Chinese fishing vessel.

The ambassador said both governments must investigate to determine if the Chinese fishermen were responsible for the sinking of the Filipino fishing boat as claimed by the Filipino fishermen who were rescued hours later by the Vietnamese fishing vessel.

“It appears that it was an accident but I would say it’s a very serious situation. I know that Philippine officials have called Chinese authorities to fully investigate the incident. I think that’s important. We need to find out exactly what happened, and if in fact there was wrongdoing by the Chinese fishing vessel,” he said.

Kim said the incident is a reminder that there should be responsible maritime activities in connection to the international maritime laws.

“I think the incident is a reminder of the importance of developing a meaningful code of conduct,” he said.

He said the US is very supporting this move for many years that should be pursued.
Kim said he is also thankful that no one from the fishing crew of Gem-Vir 1 was hurt.

In his speech during the 121st Philippine Navy Anniversary at the National Base Heracleo Alano, Sangley Point in Cavite on Monday, Duterte downplayed the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat as a “little maritime accident” and should not result in going to war with China.

“Pero ‘yang — ‘yang nangyari diyan sa banggaan that is a maritime incident. Huwag kayong maniwala diyan sa mga politiko na bobo na. Gusto papunta ‘yung — papuntahin ‘yung Navy (The collision that happened there. That is a maritime incident. Do not believe in the stupid politicians who want to send our Navy there). You do not send gray ships there…. Do not make it worse because there is a — that’s a fertile ground for,” he said.

Saying the country “can never be ready in a nuclear war,” the President said the Philippines is not yet ready to fight China.

“Because in a nuclear war kung bitawan lahat ‘yan, Earth will dry up and we will all be destroyed and that is the end of everything,” he said.

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