June 15, 2019 – A Chinese maritime militia vessel under the command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) rammed the Filipino fishing vessel in Recto Bank, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio claimed on Saturday.
“The Chinese maritime militias are trained, equipped and organized by the Navy of the PLA. While at sea, Chinese maritime militia vessels are under the chain of command of the PLA,” Carpio said in a statement.
“China’s maritime militia vessels have been ramming Vietnamese vessels in the Paracels for several years now. This is the first time that a Chinese maritime militia vessel has rammed a Filipino fishing vessel,” he added.
The high court’s most senior justice believes that the latest “aggresive” move may signal the start of a new “gray zone” offensive act by China to drive away Filipino fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea in the same way it forces out Vietnamese fishing vessels in the Paracels.
This is contrary to the statement of the Chinese Embassy saying that Yuemaobinyu 42212, a fishing vessel, is what hit the Filipino fishing boat F/B Gemver 1.
Carpio also urged the Filipino people to take a strong stand and demand compensation for the owner of F/B Gemver 1 and punishment for the captain and crew of the Chinese vessel.
Meanwhile, some senators expressed their dismay over China’s downplaying of the incident, based on statements from the captain of the Chinse ship.
Senator Francis Pangilinan said that China’s version of the events is “as fake as its territorial claims.”
In a statement, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros noted that the Chinese government’s response is “preposterous” and designed to cover-up the involved Chinese crew from accountability.
“The claim that the Chinese vessel “accidentally” hit and sank our ship because it was “suddenly besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats” is ridiculous. Equally incredible is the excuse that the Chinese vessel failed to rescue our fishermen because it was “afraid of being besieged” by our boats,” she said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin called the Chinese government’s claim “interesting”, adding that everyone is entitled to express their side of the story.
However, Locsin said that the country speaks from the law of the sea.