Wescom: Filipino fishermen asleep when boat was hit by Chinese vessel
MANILA, Philippines — The Filipino crew of an anchored fishing boat in Recto Bank (Reed Bank) had no clue that they were about to be rammed by a Chinese fishing vessel in the West Philippine Sea that night.
This is because the fishermen were sleeping when the incident happened midnight of Sunday or early Monday in the West Philippine Sea, Western Command chief Vice Adm. Rene Medina told INQUIRER.net, citing initial investigation.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday condemned the “cowardly action” of the Chinese fishing vessel, which left behind 22 Filipino fishermen after hitting their anchored boat that eventually sank.
Recto Bank is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. It is also one of the areas considered for the Philippines’ joint exploration with China.
“Interview revealed that the Chinese vessel hit and destroyed the eastern portion of the FB Gemvir. While at the brink of sinking, all the crew proceeded to the forward portion to counter the flooding of the fishing boat,” he said.
After the Philippine fishing boat was hit, two bancas from the boat tried to advance towards the vessel to complain to the Chinese.
“The Chinese fishing vessel stopped for a while, then two bancas from the fishing boat tried to approach the vessel and complain of the incident,” Medina said.
But the Chinese vessel flashed its light at the boat, maneuvered in reverse and sped off, abandoning the sinking Filipino fishing boat and endangering the lives of the fishermen in the open sea.
The fishermen used two paddle-powered bancas at sea for two hours before they were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel anchored 4 nautical miles from their fishing boat.
The rest of the fishermen left in the boat were also eventually rescued.
Based on the accounts of the fishermen, the vessel that hit them was from China, Medina said, contrary to the statements of the Philippine Coast Guard that it could be Vietnamese.
“Ang source namin ay ang mga fishermen mismo at sa tagal na nilang nangingisda sa area at palagi nila nakikita ang ibang mangingisda ng China, Vietnam kaya kilala na nila kung sino ang bumabangga sa kanila,” he said.
He also believed that what happened was no accident.
“Based on the status of the F/B Gemvir na naka-anchor before the incident at sa ginawa ng Chinese fishing vessel after the incident, parang sinadya talaga. Sa lawak-lawak ng dagat at bakit doon mismo dumadaan ang Chinese fishing vessel,” he said.
Earlier Thursday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced on social media that the Philippines had filed a diplomatic protest over the incident. (Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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