F/B GIMVER 1 was anchored when a Chinese fishing vessel collided with it. The Filipino-crewed boat sank.
Wikimedia Commons/Notthebestusername
Filipino fishermen asleep when Chinese boat hit them at midnight
(Philstar.com) - June 13, 2019 - 12:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — The 22 Filipino crew members of a fishing vessel anchored in the vicinity of Recto (Reed) Bank had no idea that their watercraft was hit by a Chinese ship as they were asleep, according to a relative of the boat's captain.

The collision between the two fishing vessels sank the anchored and stationary Filipino boat on Sunday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denounced the actions of the Chinese crew, who immediately left the scene of the incident in the West Philippine Sea.

In an interview with GMA News' "Unang Balita," the captain's cousin Jimwel Jimwel Tañedo said the Filipino crew were just shocked after finding out that their boat was already damaged.

"Ayon po sa kuwento ng pinsan ko na kapitan ng bangka, naka-anchor po sila doon sa area na pinagbanggaan, nagulat na lang po sila dahil hatinggabi po, may ano, wasak na 'yun pala nabangga na sila ng barko ng China," Tañedo told GMA News.

(According to my cousin who is the captain of the boat, they were anchored in the area of the collision, they were surprised because it was midnight, and the boat was wrecked as they have been hit by a Chinese vessel.)

Tañedo added that the crew members of the Filipino fishing vessel did not have an idea if the Chinese ship gave them a warning before the collision as they were sleeping.

According to the captain's cousin, retrieval operations for the capsized boat are ongoing.

Almost six hours passed before a Vietnamese ship rescued the distressed Filipino fishermen.

"Kasi alas-dose po sila nabangga, pagdating ng umaga, nung may nakita silang barko ng Vietnam, doon po sila humingi ng tulong sa barko ng Vietnam," Tañedo said.

(Because they were hit at 12:00 midnight, when morning came, when they saw the ship of Vietnam, that's when they asked for help.)

AFP Western Command spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Penetrante said the incident at Recto (Reed) Bank may have been intentional, comparing the collision to a "hit and run" as the Filipino boat was anchored and the Chinese vessel immediately left after the collision.

"According to our report, it's far from accidental. If it's accidental, it's (Standard Operating Procedure) they should stop, they should rescue these fishermen," Penetrante said.

Lorenzana, meanwhile, thanked the Vietnamese vessel that was in the vicinity when the Filipino boat was sinking and rescued the fishermen aboard the ship and brought them to the AFP's Western Command.

The Defense chief decried the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for abandoning the Filipino crew "to the mercy of the elements."

"This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people," Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana called for an investigation into the incident and for diplomatic actions to be taken to avoid a repeat of the incident.

For his part, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he will take his cue from Lorenzana.

"WHAT IS CONTEMPTIBLE AND CONDEMNABLE IS THE ABANDONMENT OF THE CREW TO THE ELEMENTS," Locsin tweeted Wednesday night. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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