MANILA - The Philippine Navy on Friday asserted that the Chinese vessel's ramming of an anchored Filipino boat near Reed Bank last weekend was "not a normal maritime accident."
Philippine Navy chief, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, issued this statement after Beijing downplayed the incident in the West Philippine Sea and warned against "irresponsibly politicizing" it.
"We don’t ram ships that are not moving, that are anchored. Makikita mo yan sa radar na ‘di gumagalaw yung barko. So 'pag 'di gumagalaw yung barko, bakit mo babanggain? (You could see on the radar that the boat was not moving. So if it's not moving, why slam into it?) I don’t know the reason behind it, but I don’t consider that as a normal maritime incident," Empedrad told reporters.
"The Filipino vessel was anchored when the incident happened. If you base that on International Rules of the Road, dapat privileged yung naka-anchor kasi hindi siya makaka-evade. Alam natin lahat yan, alam ng mga seafarers, commanding officer ng mga vessels."
(If you base that on International Rules of the Road, the anchored boat should be privileged because he could not evade the other vessel. We all know it, all seafarers and commanding officers of vessels.)
Empedrad also stressed that more than the “ramming” of the Filipino fishing vessel GEM-VIR1, the most questionable act was abandoning the distressed Filipino fishermen.
"Mahalaga sa akin, i-condemn natin yung act na instead na tulungan mo yung nangangailangan, iniwan mo. Anong klaseng tao ka pag ganun? Kahit na wala namang batas, kailangan tulungan mo yung mga namamatay na tao, di ba?" he said.
(It's important to me to condemn the act of abandoning those in need. What kind of person are you? Even if there are no laws, you should help those whose lives are in danger.)
Empedrad, however, could not confirm if the Chinese ship belonged to China's maritime militia.
The captain of the Philippine boat also insisted that the incident was an allision, and that the Chinese vessel also switched off lights before leaving them at sea.
--With reports from Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News