MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – A Chinese vessel sank a Philippine vessel in a collision in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and left the 22 Filipino fishermen on that boat “to the mercy of the elements,” the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) announced on Wednesday, June 12.
“A collision between a Chinese and Filipino vessel (F/B Gem-vir 1) was reported by Filipino fishermen near the Recto Bank in the West Philippine [Sea] on the evening of June 9, 2019. The collision sank the Filipino vessel,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement, citing information from Filipino fishermen.
The Philippine boat, the DND said, had 22 fishermen on board who were later rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel. The Philippine Coast Guard said the Philippine vessel came from Occidental Mindoro.
“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,” Lorenzana 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,” he added.
It’s a first in the dispute between the Philippines and China, experts said. (READ: Sinking of Filipino vessel a ‘first’ in Philippines-China row)
The Philippine military said the sinking was “far from accidental.”