MANILA - The local chief executive of San Jose town in Occidental Mindoro believes that the incident involving a Chinese vessel that collided with a Philippine vessel was intentional.
"Sa mga naririnig ko rito at nainterview na rin ang iba, habang nabangga sila may katawagan naman silang kamag-anak nila...sa tingin ko, talagang sinadya, talagang na bully tayo," said Mayor Romulo Festin.
The collision took place near Reed Bank on Sunday. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said incident endangered the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen after the Chinese fishing vessel immediately left the scene.
"Ni hindi man lang hinintuan, nakaladkad pa according sa mga ano," added Festin.
Beijing on Thursday played down the incident describing it as an "ordinary maritime accident".
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddy" Locsin said Thursday that the Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest over the ship-ramming incident in the West Philippine Sea.
For the town mayor, he hopes the government handles it well to prevent a repeat of the incident.
"Tingnan natin kung paano nila i-handle itong ganitong situation, itong crisis na ganito, kasi baka maulit," he said. "May tiwala naman tayo sa national government, unang-una declared naman ng president na 'di tayo pwedeng lumaban ng giyera so we have to accept that reality. Pero siguro yung boses natin siguro, 'wag na mapigilan na."
Festin said the local government unit would extend assistance to the fishermen of F/B GEMVIR1.
"Livelihood, siyempre kailangan nila yun. Wala ngang hanap-buhay, matetengga...prepared kami dyan," Festin added.
An analyst earlier warned that a maritime confrontation in the South China Sea is inevitable with the presence of Chinese militia in the disputed waters.
Gregory Poling, Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, said all claimants must "find the path forward to manage these disputes before something breaks."
"Ang panawagan ko dito sana 'wag mapabayaan ang kasong ito. Gawing transparent, para lahat ng concerned dito--lahat ng mga Pilipino ang concerned dahil ang ating mamamayan ang parang naagrabiyado--transparent lang para walang agam-agam," Festin said.
He added: "Ipakita din natin na may muscle din tayo sa bibig kung wala man tayong muscle sa giyera, eh sa bunganga man lang at sa tinatawag na proper court."