THE Department of National Defense (DND) confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that a Filipino vessel, which was anchored at Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, sank after it collided with a Chinese vessel on Sunday evening.
The incident was reported by Filipino fishermen in the vicinity, who said the Chinese vessel abandoned the submerged Philippine-flagged F/B GIMVER 1 that had 22 people on board.
“We denounce the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for immediately leaving the scene of the incident, abandoning the 22 Filipino crewmen to the mercy of the elements. The F/B GIMVER 1 was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel,” said DND Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana in a statement.
Mr. Lorenzana said a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the area, together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Command, rescued the sunken boat’s crew members.
“We thank the captain and crew of (the) Vietnamese vessel, for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew. However, we condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the suspected Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew. This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people,” the Defense chief said.
“We call for the conduct of a formal investigation on the matter and for diplomatic steps be taken to prevent a repeat of this incident,” he added.
The Philippine Navy’s BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which was conducting a routine maritime patrol in the area, also assisted in the recovery of F/B GIMVER 1 and its crew. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras