THE PHILIPPINE Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday rescued five Filipino fishermen whose boat was destroyed after it was allegedly rammed by a Chinese bulk carrier in waters near Paluan, Occidental Mindoro in the South China Sea.
The outrigger was tied to a fish aggregating device, used by Filipinos to catch small pelagic fish, when the bigger MV Tai Hang 8 hit it in the afternoon of Dec. 5, the coast guard said in a statement on Thursday, citing the victims.
The fishermen deployed a smaller service boat where they jumped to when it was clear the Chinese vessel was not stopping, boat owner Jaziel Juano told ABS-CBN News TeleRadyo. “They were thrown out because of the impact even if they were already in the boat,” she said in Filipino.
The fishermen were left adrift as the foreign vessel continued its voyage, the coast guard said. Philippine authorities are investigating the incident.
The PCG said it had received information regarding the incident at noon the following day after the fishermen reported the event to the boat owner in Puerto Princesa, Palawan province.
The owner sent three rescue boats, which the coast guard helped.
The Tuesday event followed an incident on Oct. 1, when a foreign oil tanker registered under the flag of Marshall Islands rammed into a Filipino fishing boat near Scarborough Shoal, killing three crew members.
“Upon arrival at the Port of Sablayan, the PCG ensured the fishermen were all in good physical condition and provided them with essential supplies.”
The coast guard said it had advised the boat owner to file a marine protest. The agency was set to report the incident to China “in adherence to maritime incident procedures.”
“The Coast Guard is diligently engaged in coordinating with the ship’s company, aiming to uncover the truth surrounding the incident,” it added.
Meanwhile, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said the House of Representatives is committed to do everything in its power to protect Philippine rights in the South China Sea.
“We fully support our troops and our coast guard patrolling our exclusive economic zone against China’s vessels that turn away our fishermen with a legal right to fish in the West Philippine Sea,” he said in a statement, referring to areas of the sea within the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Congressmen on Wednesday adopted House Resolution 1494 “strongly condemning China’s illegal actions in the West Philippine Sea.”
The resolution calls on the government of Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to uphold the country’s sovereignty over its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
It also urged the government to enforce a landmark 2016 ruling by a United Nations-backed arbitration court that voided China’s claim to more than 80% of the South China Sea based on a 1940s map.
China has violated the arbitral ruling by building military islands in various parts of the South China Sea, according to the resolution.
The Philippines has filed 129 diplomatic protests against China from July 2022 to Nov. 28. Sixty-two of these were filed this year, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ma. Teresita C. Daza said on Tuesday.
The House cited Chinese harassment, dangerous maneuvers and radio challenges; unilateral imposition of a fishing moratorium; and unauthorized marine scientific research activities at sea.
It also scored China’s continued blocking of Filipino fishermen trying to fish near Scarborough Shoal, as well as the harassment of Philippine boats at Second Thomas Shoal.
“The Philippine government must strengthen its ability to patrol and protect the country’s maritime zones by building a self-reliant defense posture program and upgrading the capabilities of the Philippine Coast Guard,” according to the resolution.
“We commit to enhancing our defense posture in the West Philippine Sea through legislation and by exercising Congress’ power of the purse,” Mr. Romualdez said.
“China has sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao (South China Sea islands), which consists of Dongsha Qundao, Xisha Qundao, Zhongsha Qundao and Nansha Qundao,” the Chinese Embassy in Manila said in a Viber message.
“China has internal waters, territorial sea and contiguous zones based on Nanhai Zhudao. China has an exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, based on Nanhai Zhudao. China has historic rights in the South China Sea. China’s position as stated above is clear, consistent and solidly grounded in history and law,” it added.
The embassy said the 2016 arbitral award is “illegal, null and void.” “China does not accept or recognize it and will never accept any claim or action based on the award.” — KATA and Beatriz Marie D. Cruz