Military cites report: Chinese ship 'accidentally collided' with Filipino fishing boat

Philippines defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana accused a suspected Chinese trawler of cowardly behaviour for abandoning the crew of a Philippines boat after a collision

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte raises his fist while delivering a speech during the 121st Philippine Independence Day celebration at the 6th Infantry Battalion Grounds in Malabang, Lanao del Sur on June 12, 2019.

The Philippines' top diplomat said Thursday he has filed a diplomatic protest after an anchored fishing boat was hit by a suspected Chinese vessel which then abandoned the 22 Filipino fishermen as the boat sank in the disputed South China Sea.

Meanwhile, China rejects the arbitral ruling and continues to claim virtually the entire South China Sea. "We thank the captain and crew of Vietnamese vessel, for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew", Lorenzana said.

"We condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the suspected Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew".

Worldwide law ignored Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad, Philippine Navy flag officer in command, on Thursday also added his voice to those criticizing the Chinese vessel's actions.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. called the incident a "hit and run" and "fired off a diplomatic protest" at Beijing, he said on Twitter. "We know what to do", the president's spokesman said.

The collision tests Duterte's embrace of Beijing, a major partner in his economic policy and infrastructure program.

In July 2016, the Philippines won a major global ruling which invalidated China's extensives claims over the South China Sea, but China has refused to accept the ruling and the Duterte government has not sought support from other countries to enforce it, despite complaining of Beijing's actions. "I can not imagine that leading to a shooting war with China", he said. Critics believe Duterte's approach is easing the territory right into Beijing's hands.

"It only goes to show that despite this friendship, ". "Even our ally failed us in Scarborough, remember?" he said. "It might be said that China is now abusing the government's inaction. that's why something like this could happen, so close to our shores, against our own citizens".

Panelo called on Chinese authorities to investigate and impose sanctions to the Chinese crew.

"It is crystal-clear violation of maritime protocols as well as an infringement of internationally accepted practice of assisting a vessel in distress".

A protester holds a slogan during a rally outside the Chinese Consulate in the financial district of Makati in metropolitan Manila on Wednesday.

There was no immediate comment from Chinese officials.

The Philippines and China have always been involved in a maritime dispute over territories in the West Philippine Sea.

China has long demanded that the Philippines remove the rusting navy ship which Filipino marines use as an outpost, but the Philippines has refused.

Former government officials filed a complaint against Xi at the International Criminal Court this year.

Trillanes urged Locsin to refer the incident "to the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) since both the Philippines and China are State parties to the IMO".

Duterte has been criticized for pursuing friendly ties with China despite the East Asian giant's incursions in areas the West Philippine Sea.

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