Philippines asks China to sanction ship crew in 'hit-and-run'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2019 07:49 AM

This picture taken on April 21, 2017 shows an aerial view of reefs in the disputed Spratly islands in the disputed South China Sea. Ted Aljibe, AFP

MANILA -- The Philippines on Thursday called on China to sanction the crew of a Chinese ship who figured in what the military called a "hit-and-run" that sank a boat carrying Filipino fishermen in disputed waters.

"The dictates of humanity" required the Chinese ship to assist the 22 Filipino fishermen after the collision off Recto Bank earlier this week, said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The collision occurred as tensions rose between Manila and Beijing. The Philippines in March protested the presence of Chinese ships off Pag-asa Island, the largest Filipino-occupied outcrop in the disputed Spratlys.

"We call on the appropriate Chinese authorities to probe the collision and impose the proper sanctions to the Chinese crew," Panelo said in a statement.

"The Captain and the crew of the Chinese vessel should not have left the injured party without any assistance or succor. Such act of desertion is inhuman as it is barbaric," he said.

Philippine vessel F/B GIMVER1 was anchored near the Recto Bank when it was hit by the Chinese ship Sunday night.

The Chinese ship left the scene in what military likened to a "hit-and-run." A Vietnamese fishing vessel rescued the Filipino fishermen.

The Philippines in July 2016 won an arbitration case before a United Nations-backed body, which invalidated China's vast claims in the resource-rich waterway.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in office for barely a month when the Permanent Court of Arbitration handed down its ruling, refused to tout the legal victory. His predecessor, former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, initiated the case.

Duterte instead sought closer ties with Beijing as he pivoted the Philippines' foreign policy away from the US, China's rival for influence in the Asia Pacific.