‘It is a felony to abandon people in distress,’ says Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr, after President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed the issue as a ‘maritime incident’
MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr raised at the United Nations (UN) the sinking of a Filipino boat by a Chinese ship in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), as he slammed the “felony” of abandoning persons in distress.
“The 22 Filipino crew were left in the water until a Vietnamese vessel took them on board. We are eternally grateful, we are eternally in debt to our strategic partner, Vietnam, for this act of mercy and decency,” said Locsin in a speech Monday evening, June 17 (Manila time), at the UN Headquarters in New York. (READ: INSIDE STORY: How Filipino crew were saved by Vietnamese in West PH Sea)
Locsin was speaking at the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The UNCLOS is the basis of the Philippines’ legal victory against China, which nullified China’s expansive claim over the South China Sea. The ruling upheld the Philippines’ rights over the West Philippine Sea, including the potentially oil-rich Recto Bank (Reed Bank), the site of the boat sinking incident.
Locsin delivered his UN speech hours after the country’s chief diplomat, President Rodrigo Duterte, dismissed the boat sinking at Recto Bank as a “maritime incident.” Duterte also spared China from criticism when he broke his days-long silence on this.
Locsin’s speech further showed the Philippine government’s two-faced response to the Recto Bank incident, as officials excuse or downplay China’s acts in public, while diplomats, behind the scenes, alert the international community in fora such as this UN event and also a meeting at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.