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Philippines

Bayan slams ‘lack of assertion’ of gov’t in maritime row

Pursue fishery cooperation in South China Sea, claimants urged

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government’s lack of response on the West Philippine Sea issue is to blame for the actions of a Chinese vessel who bumped and sank a Filipino ship on Wednesday, according to the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes said in a statement that the current administration’s supposed inaction has led Chinese seafarers into thinking that their country controls the area.

“The Chinese vessels have been emboldened by the Philippine government’s lack of assertion of our legal victory in the West Philippine Sea. They continue to believe that they control the area and can do as they wish,” Reyes said.

The reports on the sinking, which happened on Sunday, June 9, came out on Independence Day.

“On the occasion of Independence Day, we condemn in the strongest terms the sinking of a Filipino fishing vessel by a Chinese ship,” Reyes said. “The abandonment of the Filipinos at sea, in hit-and-run fashion, deserves even stronger condemnation. The Philippine government must protest this incident.”

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana condemned the incident, noting that the Chinese vessel left the Filipino crew of the sunken boat after a collision at Recto Bank, also known as Reed Bank.

The abandonment, he said, were not actions one would expect from a supposedly “responsible and friendly people.”

READ: China fishing vessel sinks Filipino boat after ‘collision’ in West Philippine Sea

The incident drew strong reactions from several government officials, including Sen. JV Ejercito, who asked if China was really a friend of the Philippines.

READ: Ejercito asks: Is China really a friend?

Ties between Philippines and China — severed after Manila filed and won an arbitration case against Beijing at the Permanent Court of Arbitration — were restored after President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to implement an independent foreign policy.

READ: PH wins arbitration case over South China Sea

READ: Duterte: Gov’t to pursue ‘independent foreign policy’

Critics of the Duterte administration have clamored several times for it to file diplomatic protests against China, most recently on April 2019 after an “extraordinary surge” of Chinese vessels were found at the disputed region.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that they had filed a protest against the Asian superpower, calling it the best course for the country.

READ: Colmenares: If gov’t doesn’t act on West PH Sea, we will

READ: Palace: Filing diplomatic protest, negotiations best ways to solve sea dispute with China

Reyes urged the government to make a diplomatic protest on the issue.

“We find this unacceptable. Now is the time to make it clear that we will not allow this incident to pass without a strong diplomatic protest,” he noted.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate also insisted on a diplomatic protest.

READ: Collision’ at West PH Sea: File protest vs Beijing, Duterte admin told

(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)

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