MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Lacson yesterday slammed Pres. Duterte over the recent incident involving a Chinese vessel ramming a Filipino fishing vessel in the West Philippine Sea.
“We dont treat our friends like that and we dont expect to be treated that way either. Nothing short of a serious punitive action by the Chinese leadership against the Chinese Coast Guard crew responsible for the cowardly act against unarmed fishermen could assuage the majority of our countrymen’s strong apprehension about the sincerity of China towards us. It is on our President and our Foreign Affairs to show where their true loyaltie lies”, Sen. Lacson said in a statement.
A Filipino fishing boat sank last Sunday after being hit by a Chinese vessel near the disputed Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine (South China) Sea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced on Wednesday.
No lives were lost in the incident, but Lorenzana condemned those on the Chinese vessel for abandoning the 22 Filipinos aboard the F/B Gimver 1 “to the mercy of the elements.”
A Vietnamese fishing vessel rescued the Filipinos and brought them to Palawan, in coordination with the military’s Western Command. The Navy’s BRP Ramon Alcaraz was also ordered to assist and monitor the area.
“We thank the captain and crew of the Vietnamese vessel for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew. However, we condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew,” Lorenzana said.
“This is not the expected action from responsible and friendly people,” he added.
The Defense chief called for a formal investigation and urged diplomatic steps “to prevent a repeat of this incident.”
The sinking underscored reports of continued harassment of Filipino fishers in disputed waters despite the Duterte administration’s pivot to Beijing.
Earlier this year, hundreds of Chinese vessels reportedly surrounded Philippine-held Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to warn of “suicide attacks” in a rare rebuke.
Duterte, who has set aside an international arbitral ruling rejecting China’s territorial claims, has said that he was powerless to go against the regional power.
READ: China created a Maritime Militia of Chinese fishermen-soldiers to harass Filipinos and Vietnamese fishermen in the Spratly’s