Press Release
June 19, 2019

Nancy on China's statement: Calling it an 'ordinary maritime accident' diminishes testimony of Pinoy crew

Senator Nancy Binay today expressed sadness over how China downplayed as a simple maritime accident the sinking of a Filipino vessel that left for dead 22 crew members.

According to Binay, it could not have been any ordinary sea accident given the many accounts and official reports of similar incidents involving Chinese vessels ramming onto foreign-flagged fishing boats.

"Mahirap paniwalaan na aksidente yung nangyari dahil maraming beses na itong nangyari di lang sa mga Pilipinong mangingisda, at alam ng ating Navy 'yan. Ang nakakalungkot lang, China's statements have overshadowed the testimonies and first-hand accounts of the crew," the senator noted.

Ship-to-ship collisions are a common excuse by Chinese fishermen when in fact maritime reports of similar incidents show that Chinese boats attack fishermen from the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia that have left thousands of fishermen injured, missing or dead in territorial waters.

"More than the exchange of responses whether or not it was an accident, for me, yung pag-abandona ng Chinese vessel at hinayaan na lamang silang mamatay sa laot is inhumane and unacceptable. Granting na aksidente nga ang nangyari, the first thing that comes to mind is to save the lives of those who are hurt or injured--di mo sila basta iiwanan," she said.

Binay added that the act of abandoning or failure to rescue those floundering at sea is clearly in violation of maritime laws.

"Malinaw sa UNCLOS yung duty to rescue. We should call out the Chinese government for abandoning our fishermen. We should seek accountability. Kung tatanggapin na lang natin itong isang aksidente, we just showed the world how we take care of our people," Binay said.

She added that the incident was far from being an ordinary accident as China described it.

"What if iba ang naging scenario, and all the 22 crew members died at sea? Paano kung walang mga Vietnamese na sumaklolo? At kung namatay silang lahat, sino ang paniniwalaang kwento? China pa rin ba?" asked Binay.

She said that UNCLOS provides that the able vessel has a duty to rescue the Filipino fishermen, and the least they could do is send a distress call.

"Sadly, they were abandoned twice. Yung una, iniwan sila ng mga Tsino na palutang-lutang sa dagat. And after their tragic and horrible experience at sea, we failed to give considerable attention to their testimonies. Kaya yung pangalawa, parang ganun din... iniwan silang palutang-lutang," Binay pointed out.

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