China asks Philippines to verify 'collision' incident-A A +A
Monday, June 25, 2012
MANILA (2nd Update, 3:24 p.m.) -- The Chinese Embassy in Manila called on “relevant persons” late Sunday to verify reports that a Chinese vessel rammed a Filipino-manned fishing vessel, killing one and leaving four others missing.
In a statement, Chinese spokesman Zhang Hua said that he has yet to verify reports on the alleged ramming of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese vessel on Monday last week that caused the eventual death of one Filipino fisherman.
Four others went missing, while three were rescued.
“Such media reports remain to be verified. Upon seeing the stories, the Chinese Embassy immediately checked with the relevant authorities in China and was told that, up until now, there have been no reports of vessel collision accident or SOS requests on the reported dates and in the reported waters,” Zhang said.
“We wonder what that news story was based upon. We hope relevant persons can verify the facts with a responsible attitude before they report,” he added.
On Sunday, reports circulated that an unnamed Chinese vessel accidentally rammed a local fishing boat north of the disputed Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal, over which the Philippines and China have been engaged in a tense standoff since April 10.
In a report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), it said that the fishermen’s boat “Axl John” was damaged after being bumped by the Chinese vessel while anchored on an artificial fish shelter.
The collision caused the eventual death of a Filipino fisherman identified as Christopher Carbonell, 32, of Bolinao, Pangasinan.
Three others were rescued: Edimio Balmores, 40; Herman Balmores, 51; and Celino Damian, 32.
Four fishermen are still missing: Fred Celino, Arnold Garcia, Domy de los Santos and Amante Resonable.
One of the rescued fishermen alleged that it was a Chinese vessel that rammed their boat. However, this could not be verified as he did not see the vessel’s name or those aboard it.
President Benigno Aquino III refused to blame China on the incident, saying he is still waiting for the result of the investigation.
“There is an investigation, determination of cause, determination of who is at fault. Then after all of this investigation, then that tells us where we will proceed,” Aquino said in an interview in Benguet.
He assured necessary assistance and vowed justice for the victims of the collision.
“If there was a ramming incident and you left the fishermen in the middle of the sea -- that is in clear violation of the laws governing the seas. That is actionable. We can go to the appropriate fora to file the necessary charges for justice for our fishermen,” he said.
Aquino said the government is rendering assistance to the three fishermen who were rescued. The three are currently confined at the Gabriela Silang General Hospital in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.
Aquino said there is still no definite plan if he will visit the three survivors, noting that they are being assisted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“The authorities could not get statements from them because they are still suffering from hypothermia, rapid loss of body warmth. So, they still could not talk. There is no point if I go there because I cannot speak to them,” he said.
China and the Philippines are locked in months-long standoff that originated when Chinese government ships prevented Philippine officials from capturing eight Chinese fishermen who were caught illegally poaching in the shoal.
The shoal is being claimed both by Manila and Beijing. (CVB/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)