(Bloomberg) -- China should investigate and sanction the crew members of its fishing boat for their “barbaric” act of leaving a sinking Filipino vessel after a collision near Reed Bank in the South China Sea, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman said.
“The captain and the crew of the Chinese vessel should not have left the injured party without any assistance. Such act of desertion is inhuman,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement Thursday, adding the Chinese crew violated international protocols that require them to assist a vessel in distress.
The presidential office is in “in parity” with the view of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who said diplomatic steps should be taken to prevent a repeat of the June 9 incident, Panelo noted.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a fax seeking comment on the incident.
Lorenzana earlier condemned the crew of the Chinese fishing vessel for abandoning the 22 distressed Filipino crew members of FB Gimber 1, who were later rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat and a Philippine Navy ship. The incident took place in an area claimed by both Manila and Beijing where there’s a pending oil exploration plan by Philippine gas company PXP Energy Corp.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin however said he will wait for a government task force to establish the facts first before filing any diplomatic protest, adding it still needs to be proven if the collision was intentional.
The Chinese crew members’ act of leaving the area as the Philippine boat was sinking indicates they hit the vessel intentionally, said Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Penetrante, spokesman for the military unit in charge of the disputed waters. “It is far from accidental, because if it is, they should have stopped and rescued our fishermen,” he said.
China asserts control over more than 80% of the South China Sea, a key shipping route also claimed by Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
(Recasts lead, updates with additional comments throughout.)
--With assistance from Dandan Li.
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