MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Wednesday revealed that a Philippine boat sank on Sunday night (June 9) following a collision with a Chinese vessel in the waters off the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denounced the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for leaving the scene immediately after the collision, endangering the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen onboard the F/B GIMVER1.
“We denounce the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for immediately leaving the scene of the incident, abandoning the 22 Filipino crewmen to the mercy of the elements,” Lorenzana said.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the suspected Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew. This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people,” he added.
According to Lorenzana, the F/B GIMVER1 was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel.
A Vietnamese fishing vessel in the area rescued the Filipino crew in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command.
“We thank the captain and crew of Vietnamese vessel, for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew,” the defense chief said.
The BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which was in the area for a routine maritime patrol, has been tasked to assist in the recovery of the vessel and its crew.
Lorenzana also called for a formal investigation into the incident and requested concerned agencies to take diplomatic steps against China.
“We call for the conduct of a formal investigation on the matter and for diplomatic steps be taken to prevent a repeat of this incident,” he said.
The Philippines and China have long been involved in a maritime dispute over territories in the West Philippine Sea.
Hundreds of suspected Chinese maritime militia boats have also been spotted in the disputed waterways in the past months, which have made headlines amid the territorial row between Manila and Beijing.
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