Palace hits back at China: PH not ‘politicizing’ sinking of Filipino boat
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Friday took a swipe at China for accusing the Philippines of “irresponsibly politicizing” the alleged collision between a Chinese vessel and a Filipino fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea.
“First we are not politicizing that incident,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
Panelo was reacting to Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang who described the collision as an “ordinary maritime accident” and accused the Philippine government of politicizing the incident.
But Panelo said government, who already filed a diplomatic protest against China over the incident, was focusing on the abandonment of the 22 Filipino fishermen at sea by the Chinese.
“What we are focusing is on the act of abandoning, not the collision itself. Because collisions happen in the high seas. But the act of abandoning is a violation of the UNCLOS,” he said.
Panelo was referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international treaty
which was adopted and signed in 1982.
“You don’t even have an international law provision on that. It’s a human act of lending hand to somebody in distress,” he said.
While President Rodrigo Duterte has not made any public condemnation on the incident, Panelo earlier called the gesture of the Chinese as barbaric.
“Whether it’s a form of bullying or not, it’s outrageous, it’s barbaric, it’s uncivilized and we’re condemning it,” Panelo said.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said the Philippines may end up cutting diplomatic ties with China if the “collision” at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea was done intentionally.
The Palace also said Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua had assured him in a text message that the Chinese government was “seriously” and “thoroughly” investigating the incident. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)
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