A Chinese fishing boat collided with a Filipino fishing vessel in the West Philippine Sea Sunday, sinking it and abandoning its crew of 22, who were rescued by a Vietnamese ship, the Defense Department said Wednesday.
The 22 crewmen of the FB Gimver were rescued by a Vietnamese vessel that was in the vicinity of Recto Bank, a shallow reef inside the territorial waters of the country, some 50 nautical miles off Palawan.
The Defense department condemned the behavior of the Chinese fishing vessel for endangering the lives of the 22 Filipinos on board the FB Gimver.
“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,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.
Initial reports said the Filipino fishing vessel was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel.
Lorenzana expressed gratitude for the quick actions taken by the Vietnamese vessel in responding to the distress calls of the Filipino fishermen who were floating in the rough waters of Recto Bank.
The skipper of the Vietnamese vessel that rescued the Filipinos handed them over to officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command.
Lorenzana said the Navy vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which was on routine maritime patrol in the area, was ordered to assist in the recovery of FB Ginver and its crew.
“We thank the captain and crew of Vietnamese vessel, for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew,” Lorenzana said.
“However, we condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the suspected Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew. This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people,” he added.
“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,” Lorenzana said.
In 2013, a Filipino fishing boat also sank near the Scarborough Shoal after it was rammed by a Chinese cargo vessel.
Last week, a Chinese military ship was spotted near Scarborough Shoal in the western frontier off the disputed WPS.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday also condemned the Chinese’s abandonment of 22 Filipino fishermen.
“I take my cue from Defense Secretary Lorenzana. What is contemptible and condemnable is the abandonment of the crew to the elements,” Locsin said.
“Vietnam’s rescue will be the basis of enhanced Vietnam-PH military cooperation,” he added. With Rey E. RequejoREAD: Exercise caution when near WPS, alien ships urged
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