MANILA – Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana revealed just last Wednesday that a Philippine ship sank the previous Sunday night following a collision with a Chinese one in the West Philippine Sea, risking the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen onboard.
Lorenzana condemned the actions of the Chinese for abandoning the Filipino fishermen onboard F/B GIMVER1 resulting in the collision near Recto Bank.
“We denounce the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for immediately leaving the incident scene abandoning the 22 Filipino crewmen to the mercy of the elements,” he said.
“…We condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew. This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people,” Lorenzana added.
The Philippine ship was anchored when it was hit by the Chinese vessel. A Vietnamese fishing vessel in the area rescued the Filipino fishermen in coordination with the Philippine military.
“We thank the captain and crew of Vietnamese vessel, for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew,” Lorenzana added.
The defense chief rallied for a formal investigation into the incident and requested diplomatic action 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.”
The Armed Forces’ Western Command cited the incident was “far from accidental” and likened it to a “hit and run.”
AFP Wescom spokesman Lt. Col. Stephen Penetrante stated, “After the collision, the Chinese vessel immediately left, it was like a hit and run.”
“According to our report, it’s far from accidental and if it was, the standard operating procedure should be, they should stop, right? And then they should rescue these fishermen. When they hit FB Gimver 1 they went ahead, they didn’t stop.”
The bow number of the Chinese vessel was not seen. Penetrante stated, “It was not seen because it was dark. And maybe they intentionally turned off the lights. They don’t want to be identified.”
Penetranted added that Wescom will conduct an inquiry.