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Philippine bishops decry China's 'continuous bullying'

Outrage after Chinese vessel abandons Philippine fishing crew after sinking their boat in South China Sea

 Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Published: June 14, 2019 04:56 AM GMT
Philippine bishops decry China's 'continuous bullying'

A Filipino activist carries a banner protesting alleged incursion into Philippine waters during a demonstration in Manila on June 12. (Photo by Jire Carreon)


At least three Filipino Catholic bishops have joined growing protests in Manila against what they described as China's "continuous bullying of the Philippines."

Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat and the abandonment of its crew by a Chinese vessel last week was a "manifestation" of China's lack of respect of Philippine sovereignty.

"They have no respect for our territory nor respect for Filipino lives," said the prelate.

On June 9, a Philippine fishing boat sank near the Reed Bank in the South China Sea after a Chinese fishing vessel reportedly hit it while it was at anchor.

The Chinese vessel allegedly sailed away, leaving the 22 Filipinos aboard the sinking ship.

A Vietnamese fishing vessel later rescued the crew.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the incident showed that China "could not be trusted, and they really have selfish, vested interests” in the South China Sea’s contested waters and islands.

"If they are really our friends and neighbors who propagate common peace and prosperity among Asians they should have avoided provocation, maintained restraint and helped our 22 fishermen," said the prelate.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo called on the Philippine government to investigate the incident. He said Manila should demand an explanation.

"We should demand to know why the Filipino fishermen were not rescued and given proper care," said Bishop Pabillo.
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The Philippine government has already called on China to sanction the crew of the Chinese vessel.

"We call on the appropriate Chinese authorities to probe the collision and impose the proper sanctions on the Chinese crew,” said Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.

He said the alleged “abandonment" by the Chinese vessel of the Filipino fishermen was "uncivilized as it was outrageous."

"Such an act of desertion is inhuman as it is barbaric," he added.

The collision took place on Sunday, June 9, but was only announced to the media by the Philippines' Department of Defense on June 12.

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