Poe: PH must stand up to China

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2019 01:43 PM | Updated as of Jun 13 2019 02:34 PM

MANILA – Sen. Grace Poe on Thursday said the Philippines must not let itself be bullied by China, after a Chinese vessel allegedly rammed and sank a Filipino fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea, leaving Filipino fishermen "to die" in the waters.

Filipino fishing vessel F/B GEMVER1 sank after it was rammed by a Chinese vessel off Recto Bank near Palawan Sunday night. The Chinese crew also abandoned the 22 Filipino fishermen in the waters. They were later rescued by a Vietnamese vessel nearby. 

“Akalain mo binangga na nga iniwan pa dun para mamatay. Hindi po excuse na sabihin malakas ang China at mahina tayo. Kung nginungudngud na mukha mo sa lupa, hindi ba mas kahiya-hiya sa inyong integridad na hindi lumaban?” Poe said in a speech during graduation rites of the Bulacan State University. 

(After they were rammed, they were just left there to die. It’s not an excuse to say that China is strong and we are weak. If your face is being shoved to the ground, isn’t it more shameful that you don’t put up a fight?)

“Kung ngayon gusto nila daliri niyo, sa susunod kamay, sa susunod balikat na, buong katawan kung hindi tayo magsalita.”

(If now they just want your finger, soon enough they would want to get your hands, shoulders, and then your whole body if you don’t speak up.)

The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest over the ship-ramming incident in the West Philippine Sea, Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin said Thursday.

Locsin issued the statement on his Twitter account a day after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana bared the incident. 

"I fired off a diplomatic protest yesterday," Locsin said in a tweet in response to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV's recommendation to take the issue to an international agency.

"I will proceed on the merits of the case and what it calls for while the matter is studied by the International Maritime Organization (IMO)," he added.

Poe agreed that the Philippines must protest the Chinese crew’s action. The Senate should also look into the matter, she added.

“Kung papabayaan natin na gawin nila 'yan sa atin na hindi sila kikibo ay panay na panay na gagawin nila 'yan. Hindi sila matatakot,” she said.

(If we will let them do that to us, they will do that over and over. They will not be afraid to do that.)

She said the Chinese government must also provide a plan of action over the incident, as she noted how Beijing has so far remained silent.

GORDON: CHINESE VIOLATED INTERNATIONAL LAWS

Sen. Richard Gordon, meanwhile, said the Chinese crew "committed acts of inhumanity by leaving and abandoning people who are in peril of the sea and they should answer for it."

Gordon noted that under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and Article 98 of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, vessels, especially after a collision, must render assistance to the other ship, its crew and its passengers.

"The Chinese crew violated these laws," he said.

"I hope anybody in the West Philippine Sea or anywhere in the world would understand that there are responsibilities by all peoples for those who are in peril of the sea."

The West Philippine Sea is the country's exclusive economic zone in the disputed South China Sea, which Beijing claims in near entirety. 

Gordon urged the Philippine Coast Guard to "always be in position in that area."

The Philippines and China have long been involved in a maritime dispute as Beijing continues to assert its sweeping claims over the South China Sea. President Rodrigo Duterte, however, has downplayed this spat as he sought to improve Manila’s economic ties with Asia’s richest country.

In the past months, sightings of Chinese vessels in Philippine waters have made headlines amid rising tensions.

The Philippine military had said it monitored more than 600 Chinese ships near Pag-asa Island since January of this year.