Chinese vessel sinks Philippine fishing boat in West Philippine Sea, abandons crew members

This photo taken on April 21, 2017 shows an aerial shot of a reef in the disputed Spratly islands on April 21, 2017. (Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP)
This photo taken on April 21, 2017 shows an aerial shot of a reef in the disputed Spratly islands on April 21, 2017. (Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP)

The Philippine government is now condemning the alleged hit and run incident that left 22 crew members of a Philippine fishing boat treading water in the disputed West Philippine Sea after they were hit and abandoned by a Chinese vessel.

The incident was made public by Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday, as the entire nation celebrated Philippine Independence Day.

According to Lorenzana, the Philippine boat called the F/B Gimver 1 was anchored near the Recto Bank in Palawan (aka Reed Bank) when it was hit by the Chinese vessel and sank.

“We denounce the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for immediately leaving the incident scene and abandoning the 22 crewmen to the mercy of the elements,” he said. He also called the Chinese ship’s lack of action “cowardly.”

“This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people,” he said. He also called for diplomatic action.

Lorenzana credited Vietnamese fishermen for saving the Filipino crew members. He said that the Philippine Navy ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz was later assigned to assist the victims.

The Philippine military does not think the collision was an accident.

“According to our report, it’s far from accidental because if it were accidental, the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) should be they should stop, right? And then they should rescue, rescue our fishermen. But when they hit the FB Gimver 1, the just kept on going, they did not stop,” AFP Western Command Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Penetrante told Rappler in English and Filipino.

He said they would look further into what occurred.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has also criticized the captain and crew of the Chinese vessel, calling what they did “inhuman” and “barbaric.”

“The Captain and the crew of the Chinese vessel should not have left the injured party without any assistance or succor. Such act of desertion is inhuman as it is barbaric,” Panelo said in a statement today.

He called the act of abandonment “uncivilized” and “outrageous” and said that whether or not the collision was intentional is beside the point.

“Common decency and the dictates of humanity require the immediate saving of the crew of the downed Philippine vessel,” Panelo said.

He called on Chinese authorities to probe the incident and sanction the Chinese crew members, while also thanking the Vietnamese vessel for helping out.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. also takes offense with the abandonment.

He said in a tweet yesterday: “What is contemptible and condemnable is the abandonment of the crew to the elements. Vietnam’s rescue will be the basis of enhanced Vietnam-PH military cooperation.”

About 200 Chinese vessels have been found near the West Philippine Sea since the beginning of the year, despite a United Nations tribunal ruling in favor of the Philippines’ claims over the area in 2016.

Critics say this decision has not been upheld properly by President Rodrigo Duterte, who has committed to warming relations with China since he took office.


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