China takes down statement on sinking of Philippine fishing vessel

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
China takes down statement on sinking of Philippine fishing vessel
This photo shows the fishermen who were abandoned at sea after their fishing boat was sunk by a Chinese vessel.
Philippine Coast Guard, Released

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese Embassy in Manila took down its statement on the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat near Recto Bank, in which it has confirmed that a Chinese vessel was involved in the incident.

The statement, which was posted on the social media accounts of Chinese Embassy in Manila Friday night, was gone for hours. No explanation was given on why the statement was taken down.

The statement has been posted again on the embassy’s Twitter account Saturday morning. But the statement is not yet back on the embassy’s Facebook account as of posting.

According to the statement, the Chinese Embassy admitted that it was a Chinese fishing boat that hit Philippine fishing boat Gem-Vir 1.

It, however, denied the incident that led to the sinking of Gem-Vir 1 was a case of “hit and run,” contradicting the statement of the Defense department that the 22 Filipino fishermen were left at the “mercy of the elements.”

The Chinese embassy claimed Chinese fishing boat Yuemaobinyu 42212 was besieged by seven or eight Filipino boats.

“During evacuation, 42212 failed to shun a Filipino fishing boat and its steel cable on the lighting grid of larboard bumped into the Filipino pilothouse. The Filipino fishing boat tilted and its stern foundered,” the embassy said.

It further claimed the captain of the Chinese boat “tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen, but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats” and that the 22 Filipino fishermen were rescued by other Filipinos in the area.

“Therefore, having confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued on board of other Filipino fishing boats, 42212 sailed away from the scene,” the embassy said.

Opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan called China's version of the incident as “fake as their territorial claims.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called the incident “an ordinary maritime traffic accident” Thursday. He also said it was irresponsible for Manila to “politicize the incident without verification.”

But for Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, Philippine Navy chief, the incident was not a “normal incident.”

“The Filipino vessel was anchored. So when based on the International Rules of the Road, it had the privilege because it could not evade… The ship was rammed,” he said Friday. — with report from The STAR/Janvic Mateo 





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