‘Duterte coward’: Filipinos’ opinions of president and Beijing government sour after South China Sea sinking



Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has come under fire for his response to the sinking of a Philippine vessel that collided with a Chinese ship in the South China Sea. Photo: EPAPhilippine public opinion is on a slow boil over recent Chinese actions and Manila’s seeming rush to defend Beijing.

Two incidents have seen many Filipinos expressing outrage on social media. One is the ramming and sinking of a Philippine fishing boat by a larger Chinese vessel on June 9. The other is the temporary detention and rejection on June 21 of former foreign secretary and known China critic Albert del Rosario by immigration officials at Hong Kong’s airport.

It’s too early to tell how much anger over del Rosario’s treatment will grow, but the ire over the sinking of the fishing boat in the Reed Bank off Palawan has not abated. After smashing into the boat hard enough to slice it in half, the Chinese vessel sailed away, apparently leaving 22 fishermen to drown. Fortunately, the men were rescued a few hours later by a Vietnamese fishing boat. Ironically, the incident happened on the date the Philippines marks as “Philippine-Chinese friendship day”.

It took three days for a report of the sinking to reach the public but when it did, anger grew not only because the fishermen had been left in the water by the Chinese vessel, but also because the hit-and-run happened in Philippine waters. The rescued captain identified the vessel that sank his boat as Chinese and said it was a deliberate attack.