Manila: Philippines rejected suggestions of joint probe with China into an incident involving a Filipino fishing boat and a Chinese vessel.
“There will be no joint investigation. China and Philippines will conduct their respective investigations,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said on Friday as he referred to proposal by China to conduct a joint probe into the sinking of the Philippine-fishing boat.
The wooden-hulled Philippine fishing boat Gen-VIR 1 was anchored at a shallow rise at the Reed Bank, some 170 kilometres off Palawan, just past midnight June 9 when it was struck by the steel-hulled Chinese vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212.
The impact caused considerable damage to the Philippine-flagged vessel causing it to sink with its crew of 22 fishermen floundering in the water. The presidential palace had describe the incident as an “allusion” rather than a collision. Stoking fury among Filipinos over the incident was the fact that the Chinese fishing boat left the aggrieved Philippine fishermen with their damaged boat instead of helping the crew as is common practice during such incidents at sea.
According to Locsin: “The main focus for the Department of Foreign Affairs [in conducting a separate probe] is what is clearest of all — the abandonment of fishermen to the elements whether deliberately or accidentally caused.”
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang’s during a press briefing in Beijing on June 20 had suggested that a joint investigation be conducted into the incident to clarify the issue.
“To find a proper solution, we suggest a joint investigation at an early date so the two sides can exchange respective initial findings and properly handle the matter through friendly consultations based on mutually-recognised investigation results,” he said.
The Chinese Embassy also said that a joint probe will allow the two countries to “exchange respective initial findings and properly handle the matter through friendly consultations based on mutually-recognised investigation results”.
The incident is the latest test in the diplomatic relations between the Manila and Beijing which it accused of piecemeal intrusions into Philippine territory to assert sovereignty over strategically important territory in the South China Sea.