A protester
A protester raises his fist beside a national flag during a protest outside the Chinese Consulate in the financial district of Makati, metropolitan Manila, Philippines to mark Independence Day on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. Image Credit: AP

Manila: The Philippines has filed a protest against China following the June 9 incident at sea where a Filipino fishing boat crew was abandoned by a bigger Chinese vessel after their sea craft figured in a collision.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, in a tweet, said he had “fired off a diplomatic protest yesterday [Wednesday] before the Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO (International Maritime Organisation).

The IMO is the specialised agency of the United Nations agency which is tasked with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping.

Aside from this, Locsin said the Department of Foreign Affairs is also preparing all the details necessary for filing a formal diplomatic protest against China regarding the incident that happened at the Reed Bank in the West Philippines Sea just before midnight, June 9.

“Let us wait for the West Philippine (Sea) Task Force to give the sort of facts on the basis of which I fire off diplomatic protests,” Locsin said.

Based on information from Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the Philippine fishing boat FB Gimber 1 was anchored at an area at the Reed Bank (Recto Bank), when a vessel, identified as Chinese, collided with it.

The incident took place when the FB Gimber 1’s 22-member crew were asleep and the Filipino vessel sank as a result of the collision.

The occurrence enraged President Rodrigo Duterte who was very sensitive about his relations with China.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo described the abandonment of the Filipino fishing boat crew as “outrageous and barbaric and uncivilised,” while demanding that the Chinese government to impose punitive action against those responsible for the incident.

“At this point, were are still awaiting China’s explanation with regards to the intention of that vessel. We need to determine if it was deliberate or was just an accident. Our responses will always be calibrated but definitely we will not allow ourselves to be assaulted, bullied, subject to such barbaric uncivilised and outrageous actions,” he said.

“If China responds negatively to our diplomatic protest, then we will cut off diplomatic ties with it,” Panelo said.

The Filipino crew were saved by a Vietnamese vessel.

The area where the incident took place is being claimed by the Philippines as part of its exclusive economic zone as well as China.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands decided in favour of the Philippines’ when it invalidated Chinese “nine-dash” line over a large portion of the South China Sea.