China ‘thoroughly, seriously’ investigating boat collision — ambassador

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CHINESE Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said China is “thoroughly and seriously” investigating the collision between a Chinese vessel and a Filipino boat on June 9.

Presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo shared a text message with reporters from Mr. Zhao following his statement on the collision “condemning the Chinese ship for abandoning the Filipino vessel crew after it hit and sunk.”

“This fishing boat issue is being thoroughly and seriously investigated. We share your concerns about fishermen. If it were true that it was Chinese fishing boat which did it, they would be duly educated and punished for their irresponsible behavior,” read the text message from the Chinese ambassador.

Mr. Panelo on Thursday said the Philippines “will cut of diplomatic relations with China if the investigation proves the collision is not accidental.” He also said that a diplomatic protest will be filed first.

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana on Wednesday condemned the Chinese vessel which abandoned the 22 crew members of the sinking Filipino boat it collided with. The Filipino boat was anchored at the Recto Bank which is within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command said the collision on June 9 was “accidental” based on the information it received, but confirmed that the Chinese vessel left after the incident.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also condemned the collision and the abandonment of the Filipino fishermen in open water by the Chinese vessel.

“We believe that asserting our sovereignty and the right of our fishers to rightfully gain economically from the resources found off the coast of Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, a country’s exclusive economic zone, protects our people’s right to self-determination,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement.

“To this end, we affirm the need to protest the said incident before the Chinese government, and for our own government to appropriate robust measures that will protect the rights of all Filipinos — be it on land or at sea,” she added. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas