China should sanction `barbaric' fishing crew, Philippines says

Activists burn a mock Chinese flag with a map of the South China Sea during a protest in front of the Chinese consulate in Manila

Activists burn a mock Chinese flag with a map of the South China Sea during a protest in front of the Chinese consulate in Manila

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).

"We condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew".

Lorenzana has sought an investigation of the sinking and said the rescued Filipino crewmen identified the vessel that hit them as Chinese.

Lorenzana said the Philippines denounced the actions of the Chinese crew as they immediately left the scene and abandoned the Filipino crewmen instead of helping them.

The West Philippine Sea is a portion being claimed by the Philippines within the long-contested waters of South China Sea. Per the statement, the vessel, which came from Occidental Mindoro, had 22 fishermen on board, was rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin announced he filed a diplomatic protest in a tweet on Thursday.

Duterte's spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said the abandonment of the fishermen was "uncivilized as it is outrageous".

According to Lorenzana, the F/B GIMVER1 was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel.

"Regardless of the nature of the collision, whether it was accidental or intentional, common decency and the dictates of humanity require the immediate saving of the crew of the downed Philippine vessel", he said.

Panelo called on Chinese authorities to investigate the collision and impose sanctions on the Chinese crew.

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The Palace official, however, called on Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua to explain his government's position on the issue. "This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people", Lorenzana said.

As their boat sank, the Filipino fishermen scrambled to smaller boats and were eventually picked up by a Vietnamese fishing boat and then transferred to a Philippine navy ship, Lorenzana said.

But Duterte in May warned that the South China Sea was becoming a "flashpoint".

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

Del Rosario was among those who filed a complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping over the alleged militarization of artificial islands, damage to marine environment, and harassment of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines' former solicitor general, Florin Hilbay, told the South China Morning Post that the government should take a tougher line in trying to enforce that ruling.

Reed Bank is about 150 kilometres (93 miles) off the Philippine island of Palawan.

But the president has been observed to be less firm with China, repeatedly stressing that the Philippines can not afford a war over the maritime dispute.

In 2011, the Philippines accused Chinese vessels of harassing an exploration vessel off Reed Bank.

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