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PH files diplomatic protest over sinking of fishing boat



PRESIDENTIAL Spokes­man Salvador Panelo

The Philippines might cut off dip­lomatic ties with China if the sink­ing of a Filipino vessel by a Chinese boat in the West Philippine Sea is proven to be an intentional aggres­sive act, Malacañang has warned on Thursday.

But for now, Presidential Spokes­man Salvador Panelo said the coun­try has filed a diplomatic protest over the ship collision as the gov­ernment moves to find out what re­ally happened in the incident.

“We want to find out first. If it was intentional, ibang usapan na ‘yun…If it is intentional, it is an act of aggression,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

“Ano pang step? Eh ‘di we will cut off diplomatic relations, ‘yan ang unang ginagawa ng mga… ‘pag mayroong mga aggressive acts. First, magdi-diplomatic pro­test ka. Kung hindi ka kuntento sa paliwanag nila at nakita natin na talagang sinadya, eh ibang usapan iyon,” he said.

Panelo said the President was “outraged” by the incident involv­ing the Chinese ship, adding it was “likely” he would take steps similar to those taken in addressing the garbage issue with Canada.

Manila earlier sought to dimin­ish diplomatic ties with Canada by recalling the country’s ambas­sador and banning official trips of government officials to the North American country until the garbage was retrieved. The garbage was eventually shipped back to Canada last month.

“Given the steps undertaken by the President on the Canada trash issue, that’s more likely…baka se­vere pa, hindi natin alam. Let’s leave it to the President” he said, when asked if the President will diminish or sever ties with China over the maritime incident.

Panelo, however, clarified that the government would take “cali­brated” responses to the situation. He said they would wait for China’s response to the diplomatic protest over the ship collision.

A Chinese vessel hit a Filipino fishing boat near Recto Bank last June 9, leaving the fishermen stranded at sea.

A Vietnamese fishing ship later rescued all the local fishermen.

According to Panelo, the gov­ernment was “condemning” the action of the Chinese vessel that rammed a Filipino boat and aban­doned the distressed fishermen at sea. He said the Palace has asked China to probe the incident and impose sanctions against the Chi­nese crewmen who left the fisher­men behind.

“We call the Chinese govern­ment to probe the incident and to impose punitive action against those at fault,” he added.

“Definitely, we will not allow ourselves to be assaulted, to be bullied, to be the subject of such barbaric, uncivilized and outra­geous actions from any source,” he added. (Genalyn Kabiling)