VP wants PH trial for Chinese crew in sea collision
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday urged the Philippine government to demand China to find those responsible in the collision in the West Philippine Sea and hold them liable by facing trial before a Philippine court.
A Chinese vessel reportedly collided with a Filipino fishing boat with a crew of 22 aboard and abandoned it while it was sinking at the Recto Bank on June 9.
The Filipinos were later rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.
Robredo called the incident an “irresponsible action” on the part of the Chinese crew.
“We strongly urge the Department of Foreign Affairs to demand from the Chinese government to find those responsible and recognize Philippine jurisdiction, so they can face trial before our courts,” Robredo said in a statement. “Justice for the 22 Filipino fishermen requires that our courts assume jurisdiction.”
The Vice President added that she was “outraged” by the incident and slammed the administration’s “less assertive policy” in the West Philippine Sea.
“We have been warning and worrying about an incident like this since the administration adopted a less assertive policy in enforcing our rights, upheld by the favorable ruling from the UN Arbitral Tribunal, in the West Philippine Sea,” Robredo said.
“Its failure to consistently contest Chinese encroachment in our waters was inevitably going to result in less and less respect for our laws and sovereignty from China — and to the direct harm of our people. As our own history has repeatedly taught us, abuse, left unchallenged, will only encourage further abuse, giving rise to impunity,” she added.
Be more courageous
Robredo then called for the government to shift its policy and employ a more “courageous” approach in asserting Philippines rights over the disputed territory.
“It is still not too late. Now is the time for a shift in policy, from being passive to being more courageous in asserting our rights. From bowing our heads in subservience, to holding our heads up high as a free and independent people,” Robredo said.
“This is the time where our patriotism, Filipino pride, and love of country should come to the fore. This is the time where we expect our leaders to be true to their oath and speak, act, and do what is needed to defend the dignity of our nation, and every Filipino,” she added.
While admitting that the Chinese vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 from Guangdong Province in China was engaged in a “light purse seine operation” in the vicinity of Recto Bank on June 9, the Chinese Embassy earlier denied that it was a “hit-and-run” incident.
“The Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen, but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino boats. Therefore, having confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued on board by other Filipino fishing boats, 42212 sailed away from the scene,” the Embassy said in a statement.
In reaction, Robredo said: “Our most profound disappointment at the refusal of the Chinese government to acknowledge the culpability of those responsible for sinking the Philippine fishing vessel and abandoning its crew. Those involved must be made accountable in accordance with the pertinent international treaties and Philippine laws.”
“While we acknowledge the statement of the Chinese ambassador that their government will investigate the incident, we should ask: If the Chinese government has already presented their own version of the events and will not even accept that a wrong was committed, how can we expect it to mete justice on those responsible?” she added.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)