PH expresses concern over sinking of Vietnamese fishing vessel
MANILA, Philippines — Recalling its “own similar experience,” the Philippine government has expressed deep concern over the reported sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the South China Sea.
“Our own similar experience revealed how much trust in a friendship is lost by it; and how much trust was created by Vietnam’s humanitarian act of directly saving the lives of our Filipino fishermen,” the DFA said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We have not stopped and will not stop thanking Vietnam. It is with that in mind that we issue this statement of solidarity,” it added.
In June last year, a Chinese trawler sank a boat carrying 22 Filipino fishermen at Recto Bank, which is within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
A Vietnamese fishing boat rescued the fishermen.
Nearly one year since the Recto Bank incident, Vietnam recently lodged a protest with Beijing after the Chinese Coast Guard “hindered, rammed and sunk” a Vietnamese boat with eight fishermen on board near the Paracel Islands on April 3, 2020, Agence-France Presse earlier reported.
The DFA pointed out that it is “crucial” that such incidents be “avoided” and that “differences be addressed in a manner that enhances dialogue and mutual trust.”
This given the “positive momentum” on the discussions on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
The DFA added that such incidents would “undermine the potential of a genuinely deep and trusting regional relationship between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China.”
“The continued strengthening of regional relations is especially critical in light of the Asean-China joint commitment to collectively tackle the ongoing crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the DFA said.
The DFA further stressed that in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, ”neither fish nor fictional historical claims are worth the fuse that’s lit by such incidents.”
“There is never a good time to indulge in provocations; they usually end in the defeat of aggression or a devastating price of victory. But it is always a good time to rise in the defense and affirmation of our respective sovereignties and in the peace and stability of our region especially in a time of pandemic,” the DFA said.
“As we have said the creation of new facts in the water will never give rise to legal right anywhere or anytime,” it added.
The DFA, nevertheless, said it remains “deeply appreciative” of China’s “extensive assistance” to countries like the Philippines to combat COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 crisis is a crisis like no other in the past; not just in its potential calamitous scale, but in the hope to contain and stop it by unstinting cooperation and fullest trust between all countries, on the realization that if any of us fails the rest will follow; and if any of us succeeds that success must be extended to the rest of the world,” the DFA said.
“Or again all of us will ultimately fail and suffer the consequences. Its solution is still distant and must extend to everyone or no one,” it added.