MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—Lawmakers on Wednesday condemned "the cruel act" committed by a Chinese ship that rammed and sank a Philippine vessel, which endangered the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana acknowledged the incident on Wednesday, saying Philippine ship F/B GIMVER1 was anchored in Recto Bank when it was hit by the Chinese vessel.
Lorenzana denounced the actions of those onboard the Chinese ship then thanked a Vietnamese vessel for saving the Filipino crew.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Beijing should take punitive action against the Chinese crew.
"We don’t treat our friends like that and we don’t expect to be treated that way either," he said in a statement.
"Nothing short of a hard and serious punitive action by the Chinese leadership against the Chinese crew responsible for the cowardly act against our fishermen could assuage the majority of our countrymen’s strong apprehension about the sincerity of China towards us.
"This incident calls for a leader-to-leader talk. As I said, nothing short of a serious punitive action by the Chinese government against those responsible can convince us of a real, friendly relationship between our peoples."
Sen. Francis Pangilinan urged the government to file a diplomatic protest.
"We condemn the illegal acts committed by the Chinese vessel," he said.
"We denounce the inhumane and cruel act of abandoning 22 human lives in the high seas. We urge our government to reverse its policy of subservience and appeasement and file diplomatic protest.
"No self-respecting nation in the world will stay meek and docile in the face of such cruelty and aggression."
Sen. Joel Villanueva said the episode was an affront to the country's sovereignty.
"This is a huge insult to us on the day we celebrate our independence. Let us be reminded of the sacrifices our heroes did so that we can continue to have the freedom we are enjoying now," Villanueva said.
"It is now our responsibility to do the same: assert our rights over the West Philippine Sea and our freedom to navigate and exploit the resources within our exclusive economic zone."
"We strongly condemn the irresponsible actions of the Chinese vessel's crew. Saving the lives of fellow seafarers should be top priority regardless of nationality or flag. The incident shows the need for greater accountability and enforcement of international laws in the West Philippine Sea."
Magdalo Party-List Rep. Gary Alejano, meantime, said the Chinese "intended to do harm to the Filipino fishermen."
"It is aimed to send a message to the rest to keep off the West Philippine Sea. The said Chinese vessel involved in the incident that happened inside the Philippines’ EEZ could be part of China's Maritime Militia organized to pursue China's objectives in South China Sea," he said.
"Our fishermen should not back down, but they should be given all the support they need from the government. I call on our government forces to increase means to monitor the West Philippine Sea particularly our fishermen during times of emergency."
Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin said the incident was a "direct provocation" and a "cause for alarm and international condemnation."
"It’s an incident bound to happen and will happen again if government will not assert our rights and legitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea," he said.