‘PCG-Marina report enough to sue Chinese’
MANILA, Philippines — A group of fishermen on Tuesday said the incident report of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) had enough grounds to sue the Chinese perpetrators who intentionally rammed a Philippine fishing vessel with a crew of 22 Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea.
Moreover, the group said a joint investigation between Manila and Beijing was no longer necessary since the PCG-Marina report already contained sufficient information needed by both parties.
“The PCG-Marina incident report says it all; the Chinese vessel intentionally rammed and abandoned our fishermen where they could have been killed if not for the Vietnamese fishermen who rescued them. This is enough evidence to bring the Chinese perpetrators to justice even without a one-sided Philippines-China joint probe,” Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) national chair Fernando Hicap said.
“We haven’t heard any concrete action from the government on how will they hold the Chinese perpetrators accountable and it even allows China to exploit our waters,” he added.
Based on the June 20 investigation report by the PCG and Marina, the Chinese vessel that smashed into the anchored Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver 1 not only failed to take measures to avoid hitting it but also willfully left the 22 Filipinos struggling for their lives in the water.
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, the Chinese fishermen violated maritime regulations for abandoning the Filipinos in distress.
In an interview, UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea director Jay Batongbacal, however, said the participation of the Chinese government was still crucial if the Philippines wants to mete out penalties to the captain and crew members of the vessel, identified as Yuemaobinyu 42212.
He said the legal action should come from China, given that only the flag state — in this case, China — has authority over an offending vessel that is in its registry.
What the government can do, Batongbacal said, is file a case against the Chinese vessel for poaching.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources legal chief Demosthenes Escoto said they were already preparing a possible poaching case against the Chinese trawler, but would need the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs to get more details from the Chinese Embassy.
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