JUNE 13, 2019 — Foreign Affairs secretary Teddy Locsin, Jr. said it could be too soon to label the West Philippine Sea incident involving Filipino fishermen and an alleged Chinese vessel as a “collision.”
Reacting to a journalist’s tweet on the incident, Locsin expressed doubts that the term is the most appropriate word to describe what happened near the Recto Bank last Sunday.
“Wrong. It’s presumably an “allision” or bumping of two vessels one of which was stationary. Ramming is another thing altogether requiring proof of intentionality,” Locsin tweeted.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “allision” as the “action of dashing against or striking upon” or the “running of one ship upon another ship that is stationary.”
Locsin then urged the media and the public to wait for the result of the investigation on the incident.
“So far as I know none of us is a mind reader not least because some of us have no mind with which to read another,” he said.
In another tweet, the country’s top diplomat told his followers to “wait for the West Philippine Sea Task Force to give the sort of facts on the basis of which I fire off diplomatic protests.”
Maritime expert Jay Batongbacal for his part believed the incident is a “deliberate and intentional ramming.”
“The Filipino vessel was anchored in the area of Reed (Recto) Bank, which is a completely submerged feature. This means the fishing vessel was stationary in open water, with unobstructed sea room around it that could have been used easily by the other vessel to avoid hitting the former,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
The director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea also condemned the abandonment of Filipino fishermen after the incident.
“Departing after the collision without rendering assistance to the vessel and crew in distress further proves the deliberate intention to cause harm,” he said.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy officer, called the incident an “alarming situation that could further escalate tensions in the WPS (West Philippine Sea).”
“I am recommending to DFA Sec. Locsin that this incident be referred to the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization since both the Philippines and China are State parties to the IMO. This way, a dispassionate, independent and objective investigation would be conducted on the matter and its recommendations would be binding under international law,” he said.
Following the incident, Senator Risa Hontiveros called on President Rodrigo Duterte to recall the the country’s ambassador and other diplomats in China as a sign of protest.
“It stands to reason that if President Duterte can order the recall of our envoy and consuls in Canada over a dispute on garbage, he can do the same to defend and secure the lives of our fisherfolk and the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she said.
Malacañang has demanded Beijing to sanction the Chinese vessel involved in the incident.
Locsin backstopped the Palace position in response to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s earlier statement on the matter.
“When a foreign country does not punish its erring civilians encroaching or hurting another country’s citizens, it is deemed under international law to have adopted their aggression as officially its own,” he said.