Philippines blasts ‘cowardly Chinese boat’ over sinking
The Philippines yesterday condemned the “cowardly action” of a suspected Chinese fishing vessel accused of abandoning a Filipino fishing crew after a collision in the disputed South China Sea. The boat on Sunday hit a Filipino craft anchored near Reed Bank -- claimed by both Manila and Beijing -- causing it to sink and leaving 22 crewmen “to the mercy of the elements”, said defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the suspected Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew,” Lorenzana said in a statement. “This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people.” Lorenzana called for an investigation into the collision, and for “diplomatic steps” to prevent a repeat of the incident.
However, Philippine defence department spokesman Arsenio Andolong said the agency had yet to confirm whether the vessel was Chinese-registered, adding it was the Filipino fishermen who identified it as such. The defence chief also thanked the crew of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity which he said brought the Filipinos to safety.