Philippines’ Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. condemned the Chinese for ramming into an anchored Filipino fishing boat near Recto Bank Saturday. The Chinese ship allegedly left the Filipino vessel to sink leaving its 22 crew members vulnerable to the elements. Fortunately, the sailors were rescued by the crew of a passing Vietnamese ship.
Locsin, angry over the “contemptible and condemnable” action committed by the Chinese ships’ uncaring crew, spurted very colorful language and called for an investigation.
Following the incident were calls for international help to resolve the issue, however, the Philippines’ foreign secretary curtly dismissed such calls.
“F*** the international community. It can be bought. This is our fight and in the end ours alone,” he said on Twitter, in response to a tweet calling for a multilateral approach.
Mr. Locsin’s combative stance appears to be justified as Regional military spokesman, Lt. Col. Stephen Penetrante, said the incident seemed to be a case of “hit and run,” a statement reported by the Associated Press.
Fishermen were among the protesters who marched in Manila on Wednesday, calling on Filipinos to defend their country’s sovereignty and for Duterte to toughen his stance against the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, the New York Times reported.
The South China Sea is considered to be a flash point with neighbouring countries unhappy that China has transformed seven disputed reefs into islands which can serve as military bases.
Chinese ships have previously blocked Philippine military and civilian vessels at Reed Bank and nearby Second Thomas Shoal, this according to an AP report.
The waters are strategically important and Manila calls the area the West Philippine Sea. An international tribunal in The Hague ruled in 2016 that it was in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
The Philippines’ former solicitor general, Florin Hilbay, told the South China Morning Post that the government should take a tougher position in enforcing that rule. -/TISG