By Genalyn Kabiling
China has started a thorough investigation into the reported collision between a Chinese vessel and Filipino boat and vowed to punish the concerned crew if the “irresponsible behavior” is proven true.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua has relayed this information to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo following the government’s diplomatic protest over the sinking of the local vessel in the West Philippine Sea.
“The fishing boat issue is being thoroughly and seriously investigated. We share your concerns about fishermen. If it were true that it was a Chinese fishing boat which did it, they would be duly educated and punished for their irresponsible behavior,” Zhao said in a text message to Panelo.
“Incidents happen even in the best-regulated family. We hope this incident could be held in a proper context,” he added.
Panelo made public Zhao’s text message about the maritime incident Thursday.
The Palace official admitted that he told the Chinese ambassador about the “uproar” caused by the maritime incident. He also cited the assurance given by Zhao about China’s inquiry into the matter.
“To the credit of the Chinese government, the ambassador of China texted me kanina, they’re seriously and cautiously investigating the case,” Panelo said in an interview with DZMM Thursday night.
“Yung text na yun assurance lang yun na they are not sitting down idly, yun ang ibig sabihin nun, na may ginagawa sila [it means they are doing something about it],” he said.
He noted that the Chinese ambassador has also promised to get back to him about the results of the probe.
The Philippine government earlier called on China to investigate the ship collision and impose sanctions against the Chinese crew that abandoned the fishermen at sea. Panelo said the act of abandonment by the Chinese vessel was barbaric, outrageous and inhuman.
He also raised the possibility of cutting ties with China if its boat intentionally rammed the Filipino boat near Recto Bank last June 9.
“We want punitive action for those na gumawa nun. Ito’y isang uncivilized, barbaric and outrageous act,” he said, adding that abandoning distressed people at sea violated international maritime protocols.
“Merong batas, merong batas na kapag ika’y naka bangga at di naman nanganganib ang buhay mo ay tulungan mo yung nangangailangan ng tulong [There are laws that if you hit a vessel and you’re life isn’t in danger, you have to help those in need],” he said.
He said if Manila is not satisfied with China’s response to the diplomatic protest, the government will consider its next course of action.