THE Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), has lodged a diplomatic protest with China after a Chinese vessel hit and sunk a Filipino fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang announced Thursday, June 13.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo also warned that Manila might cut diplomatic ties with Beijing if it is proven that the incident was intentional on the part of the Chinese.
"Oh eh ano pang step, eh di we will cut off diplomatic relations. Iyan ang mga unang ginagawa kapag merong mga aggressive act. First, mag-diplomatic protest ka. Kung hindi ka kuntento sa paliwanag nila at nakita nating talagang sinadya, ibang usapan na 'yun," he said.
(What will be the next step? We will cut off diplomatic relations. These are the steps that need to be done, if there are aggressive acts. First, file a diplomatic protest. If you are not satisfied with their explanation and if it's really intentional, that's another issue.)
"Our responses will always be calibrated, depende sa degree (depending on the degree). But definitely, we will not allow ourselves to be assaulted, to be bullied, to be subject of such barbaric, uncivilized, and outrageous actions from any source," he added.
In a Twitter post on Thursday, June 13, Locsin confirmed that his department filed on June 12, 2019 a diplomatic protest over the collision.
Panelo said the Philippines would await China's response to the diplomatic protest.
"We're waiting for a response," he said.
Filipino vessel F/B Gimver 1 was anchored near Recto (Reed) Bank when it was hit by a Chinese vessel and sank. The Chinese crew fled after the incident without rescuing the 22 Filipino fishermen.
Recto Bank is part of what the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea, which is part of the South China Sea that is also being claimed by China.
The Filipino fishermen were rescued by the crew of a Vietnamese fishing vessel nearby. Vietnam is also claiming part of the disputed maritime territory.
Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte has been informed of the incident and has expressed "outrage."
"He (Duterte) is outraged by that," Panelo said. "Whether it's a form of bullying or not, it's outrageous, it's barbaric. It's uncivilized. We're condemning it."
He reiterated the Philippines' call for China to investigate the incident.
Asked if the collision could be considered an act of agrression on the part of China, Panelo said: "if it's intentional, it's an act of aggression."
"Hindi pa nga natin alam kung sino ang may-ari nun (We don't know who the owners of the Chinese vessel are)? Is it a private vessel, ship or what? Kaya nga natin pinapa-imbestigahan sa kanila (That's why we want them to investigate that). We're calling their attention. Do something about it. We want to know," Panelo added. (SunStar Philippines)