Vietnam rescues 22 Filipinos after Chinese vessel sinks boat

Senator Francis Escudero Escudero Official Facebook page  MANILA BULLETIN

The Philippine defense secretary condemned the alleged actions of a Chinese vessel after a Philippine fishing boat was sunk in the disputed South China Sea after being hit by a suspected Chinese vessel which then abandoned the 22 Filipino crewmen.

The defence chief also thanked the crew of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity which he said brought the Filipinos to safety. Though details remain unclear, the incident and its fallout threatened to rock relations between China and the Philippines despite warming ties that had been underway initially under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. PXP is headed for a third day of declines on June 13.

"This is our fight and in the end ours alone", Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin tweeted undiplomatically on Thursday, dismissing calls for worldwide support. Antonio Trillanes IV that an independent investigation be conducted by the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency.

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.

Malacañang, meanwhile, called on the Chinese government to investigate the Chinese crew for abandoning the Filipino fishermen, and impose the proper sanctions.

"The critics of Duterte's China policy are going to seize on this unfortunate incident to cast a shadow of doubt over his approach to the South China Sea", said Richard Heydarian, a fellow at the National Chengchi University in Taiwan and author of a book on the President.

"Whether it's a form of bullying or not, it's outrageous, it's barbaric, it's uncivilized and we're condemning it", Panelo said.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the incident "should be condemned" wherever the vessel came from.

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China, according to Panelo, has yet to reach out to the Philippines following the incident.

The Philippine coast guard said it was checking whether Chinese fishermen were involved or those from other neighboring countries like Vietnam and if the collision was intentional.

China claims nearly the entirety of the South China Sea, including significant portions of the sovereign territory of the Philippines. "It is irresponsible to resort to the media to hype and politicize the incident without verification", he said, adding a Chinese investigation was underway in coordination with Philippine authorities.

"The present territorial conflict between the countries of the two colliding vessels pertaining to the area where the collision occurred, is not - and cannot be an impediment for the offending vessel to lend a hand to the distressed crew", Panelo said. But the Philippines has suspended oil and gas exploration in the area due to past Chinese protests.

The government earlier protested the swarming of Chinese vessels around Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island and Chinese fishermen's harvesting of giant clams, locally known as taklobos, in Scarborough Shoal. China did not recognize the case or the verdict.

An worldwide tribunal in The Hague ruled in 2016 that it was in the country's exclusive economic zone.

Chinese ships have previously blocked Philippine military and civilian vessels at Reed Bank and nearby Second Thomas Shoal, the AP reported.

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