MANILA - (UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday broke his silence on the incident involving a Chinese ship and Filipino fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte, in his speech during the anniversary of the Philippine Navy, addressed the issue of the incident in Reed Bank last week, where a Chinese vessel rammed into a Filipino fishing boat.
Duterte said the sinking of the Filipino fishing boat is a "maritime incident."
"'Yung nangyaring banggaan, that is a maritime incident. 'Wag kayong maniwala diyan sa mga politiko, bobo, gusto papuntahin 'yung Navy," he said.
He also said the incident is not enough for the government to send Philippine Navy ships to the area.
"You do not send gray ships (Philippine Navy) there. Banggaan lang ng barko 'yan. Do not make it worse because that is a fertile ground for... Alam ninyong mga sundalo, miscommunication 'yan. Patay na. And we are not yet as ready, and we can never be ready in nuclear war, because in nuclear war, kung bitawan lahat 'yan, earth will dry up and we will all be destroyed," he said.
Duterte said he will not be issuing an official statement since the incident has yet to be investigated.
"I do not now issue statement because there is no investigation and there is no result. Then the only thing we can do is to wait and give the other party the right to be heard. Importante 'yan eh," he said.
"Dalawang bangka lang 'yan. Now you go there and create a tension. I said, hindi ako g*go na presidente na papayag. If we have to die, we have to die in the correct way, and to die in dignity," Duterte added.
This is the first time Duterte talked about the Recto (Reed) Bank incident.
Twenty-two Filipino fishermen were left at sea off Recto (Reed) Bank by a Chinese crew in the West Philippine Sea on June 9, Sunday, in what the Philippine military likened to a "hit-and-run." They were rescued by a Vietnamese vessel.
The West Philippine Sea is the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
The Chinese embassy in Manila downplayed the incident, saying the crew of trawler Yuemaobinyu 42212 "bumped into" the Philippine boat and then left due to safety fears.
"The Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fisherman, but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats," the statement said.
It went on to say the incident was not a "hit and run," as some Philippine authorities had claimed, because the trawler "confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued."
Junel Insigne, the captain of the Filipino boat meanwhile insisted that the Chinese deliberately rammed their vessel. Insigne also expressed dismay over Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi's statement that what happened may have been an accident.
The fisherman on Sunday said that Cusi, in a closed-door meeting, told the crew members of the boat that the collision may not have been intentional because only the stern of the boat was hit.