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Philippines blasts 'cowardly Chinese boat' over sinking

Philippines blasts 'cowardly Chinese boat' over sinking

The Philippine defence department said Wednesday a suspected Chinese boat had collided with a Filipino craft anchored near Reed Bank in the South China Sea, causing it to sink and leaving 22 crewmen to their fate.

"We condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew".

Mr Lorenzana criticised the "abandoning" of the crew but thanked the Vietnamese vessel for their help.

Philippines' Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr had earlier condemned the Chinese vessel's actions as "contemptible and condemnable" and called for an investigation.

The incident happened on June 9 when a Chinese vessel hit and sank a Filipino vessel near the Recto Bank, a territory in dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin announced he filed a diplomatic protest in a tweet on Thursday. "Such act of desertion is inhuman", Panelo said in a statement, adding the Chinese crew violated worldwide protocols that require them to assist a vessel in distress.

Philippine officials say Reed Bank lies well within their country's exclusive economic zone, an internationally recognized stretch of water where coastal states have exclusive rights to fisheries, undersea oil and gas deposits and other resources. "We don't need the advice of the good senator on that", Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

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"Naka-anchor kasi gabi na po, pagkatapos ito po ay nabangga nitong Chinese vessel, yan, and after the collision the Chinese vessel immediately umalis po e, tumakas, parang hit-and-run", Lt. Col. Stephen Penetrante, acting WesCom spokesperson told reporters Wednesday night. "We call on the appropriate Chinese authorities to probe the collision and impose the proper sanctions to the Chinese crew".

"Regardless of the nature of the collision, whether it was accidental or intentional, common decency and the dictates of humanity require the immediate saving of the crew of the downed Philippine vessel", Panelo said in a statement.

Manila has been quiet over South China Sea issues with President Rodrigo Duterte anxious about jeopardising economic deals with Beijing.

Del Rosario was among those who filed a complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping over the alleged militarization of artificial islands, damage to marine environment, and harassment of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

The 22 crewmen of the FB Gimver were rescued by a Vietnamese vessel that was in the vicinity of Recto Bank, a shallow reef inside the territorial waters of the country, some 50 nautical miles off Palawan.

China, according to Panelo, has yet to reach out to the Philippines following the incident. China has refused to recognize the ruling.

Following the incident, Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over a diplomatic note to representatives from the Chinese embassy in Hanoi to protest the Chinese vessel's action and demanded due compensation for Vietnamese fishermen.