MANILA— The collision of a Philippine fishing boat with a Hong Kong cargo ship will be resolved under local laws, Malacañang said Monday.
"This is a matter to be governed by Philippine law. This is an issue of Philippine admiralty law because the collision occurred in Philippine territorial waters," Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, a lawyer, said in a Palace press briefing.
"There is no international law application here other than foreign flagships can sail through under the concept of innocent passage. But as far as the accountability is concerned, mga Pilipino po ang magdedesisyon diyan dahil ang banggaan po ay nangyari po sa ating karagatan," he said.
(Filipinos will decide on that because that happened in our waters.)
The incident happened early Sunday in waters southwest of Manila, capsizing the Philippine fishing vessel Liberty 5 off the coast of Occidental Mindoro province.
The captain of the cargo ship Vienna Wood, which is registered in Hong Kong, called for help "a few hours later" and the vessel was being escorted to land by the Philippine Coast Guard, said agency spokesman Commodore Armando Balilo.
Philippine authorities deployed aircraft and ships in the hunt for the missing people, who included 12 Filipino crew members and 2 passengers.
Roque added that it is unlikely that the incident would affect the Philippines' ties with China. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China.
"Wala naman pong malaking implikasyon iyan. Banggaan lang po iyan," he said.
(That doesn't have a huge implication. It's only a collision.)
- with a report from Agence France-Presse