By ASA T. MADALE
June 15, 2019
|Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua (PNA file photo)|
ILIGAN CITY: The Chinese Embassy in Manila on Friday night said the vessel involved in the boat sinking incident in the West Philippine Sea was indeed China-flagged but denied it was a case of “hit and run.”
The China Embassy, in a statement, identified the Chinese fishing boat as Yuemaobinyu 42212 from Guangdong Province, China. It initially berthed at the vicinity of Reed Bank.
“It was suddenly besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats. During the evacuation, 42212 failed to shun a Filipino fishing boat, and its steel cable on the lighting grid of larboard bumped into the Filipino pilothouse,” it said.
“The Filipino fishing boat tilted and its stern foundered. The Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats. Therefore, having confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued on board of other Filipino fishing boats, 42212 sailed away from the scene,” it added.
Referring to their own report, the Embassy said “there is no such thing as hit-and-run.”
Meanwhile, it vowed to properly handle the issue with the Philippines “in a serious and responsible manner,” saying the Chinese side “attaches great importance to China-Philippines friendship and safety of life at sea.”
“The two sides are maintaining close communication through diplomatic channels,” it noted.
On Friday, the 22 fishermen arrived in Occidental Mindoro aboard the Philippine Navy vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz.
In recalling the night of June 9, F/B GEMVIR1 Captain Junel Insigne, in an interview with ABS-CBN, said they were anchored when a “Chinese boat” hit them.
“Noong pagbangga, akala namin pagbalik niya tutulungan kami, biglang sumindi ‘yong ilaw na marami, dahil nakita kaming lubog na… Ayon, pinatay nila ulit ‘yong ilaw palayo na ulit sa amin (When they hit us, we thought they were going to help us when they came back. Their lights suddenly flickered on, when they saw us sinking… then they turned off their light and left),” he said.
Insigne said the Chinese should have helped them at least the moment they saw them sinking.
“Umikot lang muna sila, binalikan kami bago sumindi ‘yong ilaw, ‘yong maraming ilaw, noong makita lubog na, pinatay ‘yong ilaw bago umatras papalayo (They circled first then went back to the scene, when they saw that our boat already sank, they turned off their lights before they left),” he narrated.
“Kung wala ‘yong Vietnam baka mamatay na kami doon lahat, mga tatlong oras rin (If the Vietnamese weren’t there we would have drowned to death, we were floating for around three hours),” he added. (PNA)
Earlier, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said Beijing will punish those responsible for the sinking of a Filipino boat in the West Philippine Sea if proven that they were Chinese nationals.
“If it were true that it was Chinese fishing boat which did it, they would be duly educated and punished for their irresponsible behavior,” the envoy said in a text message to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“Incidents happen even in the best-regulated family. We hope this incident could be held in a proper context,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday confirmed that the Philippine government has filed a diplomatic protest to China on the boat incident near the Reed Bank.
Initial reports from the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said “a certain Chinese vessel accidentally collided with a Filipino fishing boat on June 9, 2019 at around 12 midnight” while it was anchored near the Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea. The Chinese vessel immediately left the scene, abandoning the 22 Filipino crewmen.
Zhao said the incident is being “thoroughly and seriously investigated,” adding that Beijing “shares (the Philippines’) concerns” about the fishermen. (With reports from PNA)