Manila: The Philippines on Wednesday decried the actions of a Chinese fishing crew who left a Filipino fishing boat crew to fend for themselves after the latter vessel sank in a collision with the former.

According to Department of National Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, a Chinese vessel figured in a collision with the F/B Gimver at the Recto Bank (international name: Reed Bank) on the evening of June 9, 2019 causing the Philippine-flagged fishing boat to sink.

Immediately after the incident, the Chinese vessel fled the scene leaving 22 crewmembers of the Philippine flagged vessel to fend for themselves until a passing Vietnamese fishing boat rescued them.

“We denounce the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for immediately leaving the incident scene abandoning the 22 Filipino crewmen to the mercy of the elements. The F/B Gimver1 was anchored at the time when it was hit by the Chinese fishing vessel,” Lorenzana said in a statement.

The Vietnamese fishing vessel rescued all 22 fishermen and brought them to safety.

“We thank the captain and crew of the Vietnamese vessel for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew. However, we condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew. This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people,” he said.

Although the Reed Bank is located within 240km from Exclusive Economic Zone, the Philippines allow foreign vessels to fish in the area.

Lorenzana said further investigations into the incident with be conducted by the Philippines.

For his part, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said the incident is deplorable.

“I take my cue from Defence Sec Lorenzana. What is contemptible and condemnable was the abandonment of the crew to the elements,” he said.

Likewise he lauded the Vietnamese for their actions in saving the Filipino crew and noted that this gesture will go a long way in improving ties between the two countries.

“Vietnam’s rescue will be the basis of enhanced Vietnam-Philippines Cooperation,” he said.

According to Locsin, the incident that led to the sinking of the Philippine vessel could have been avoided if China observed proper conduct while in the area.