In a statement, Carpio pointed out that it was unlikely that an ordinary Chinese boat would be the culprit since captains of ordinary Chinese fishing vessels do not ram other ships out of fear that the impact would also cause damage to their own ship.
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Antonio Carpio: China militia ship likely behind ramming
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - June 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — It was likely that a Chinese military vessel and not an ordinary fishing boat rammed F/B Gemver and abandoned its 22 Filipino crewmen last week, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said yesterday.

In a statement, Carpio pointed out that it was unlikely that an ordinary Chinese boat would be the culprit since captains of ordinary Chinese fishing vessels do not ram other ships out of fear that the impact would also cause damage to their own ship. 

 “China’s maritime militia vessels have reinforced steel hulls purposely for ramming fishing vessels of other coastal states.  No other coastal state has fishing vessels purposely designed for ramming other fishing vessels,” said Carpio.

Carpio added that the Chinese maritime militias are trained, equipped and organized by the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). 

“While at sea, Chinese maritime militia vessels are under the chain of command of the PLA. They are equipped with satellite radio communications and can communicate at any time with their local PLA commanders,” he added.

Carpio pointed out that this was the first time that a Chinese maritime militia vessel rammed another vessel. But for several years, these Chinese military ships have reportedly been ramming Vietnamese vessels in the Paracels.

The ramming of F/B Gemver last week at the Recto Bank (Reed Bank) demonstrated that there is an escalation of China’s acts against the Philippines in the South China Sea, he said.

Recto Bank is located within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“This may signal the start of a new ‘gray zone’ offensive by China to drive away Filipino fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea, in the same way that China is driving away Vietnamese fishing vessels in the Paracels,” Carpio said.

He added that the action of the suspected Chinese militia vessel was also a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

“In the arbitration at The Hague, the tribunal ruled that the failure of China to prevent its fishing vessels, even those privately owned, from fishing within Philippine (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea was a violation of UNCLOS.  Here, the Chinese maritime militia vessel, under the command of the PLA, prevented the crew of F/B Gemver from exercising their sovereign right to fish in the exclusive fishing ground of Filipino fishermen,” the SC Justice said.

Carpio said Filipinos should act on the incident.

“The Filipino people must take a strong stand against this latest aggressive act of China. The Filipino people must demand from China compensation for the owner of F/B Gemver and punishment for the captain and crew of the Chinese vessel that rammed in hit-and-run fashion F/B Gemver,” he said.

“The Filipino people must send a strong signal to China that any new ‘gray zone’ offensive of ramming Filipino fishing vessels in the (West Philippine Sea) will mean a break of diplomatic ties with China,” Carpio said.

ANTONIO CARPIO CHINESE MILITARY VESSEL F/B GEMVER
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