PH boat ramming ‘ordinary maritime incident’—PCG
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Friday said the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese cargo ship was an “ordinary maritime incident” not related to tensions between Manila and Beijing in the West Philippine Sea.
But no matter the circumstances of that incident, the PCG said it will hold accountable the MV Tai Hang 8 through its flag state, China.
Nevertheless, “[t]his is an ordinary maritime incident and we will treat it as such,” Commodore Armand Balilo, the PCG spokesperson, said at the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing.
Earlier on Thursday, Capt. Edyson Abanilla, the PCG station commander of Oriental Mindoro, already clarified that the Chinese ship involved was not a maritime militia vessel.
Still, the fishermen who were left adrift said the cargo vessel continued its course even as the people on board were “looking at them.”
The PCG on Thursday reported that the MV Tai Hang 8 rammed the fishing boat while it was anchored at a “payao,” a type of fishing installation, about 46 kilometers west of the municipality of Paluan in the northern tip of Occidental Mindoro.
The five fishermen—Cristian Arizala, Joshua Barbas, Ryan Jay Daus, Bryan Pangatungam and Junrey Sardan—swam to smaller service boats but were swept away by the impact of the coming vessel as it hit their fishing boat, the Ruel J.
They were rescued by the PCG, together with local fisherfolk, almost 24 hours later on Wednesday near Pandan Island, still within Occidental Mindoro’s waters but some 120 km southeast of Paluan.
The survivors have since reunited with their families after undergoing medical examination in Sablayan, the municipality which has jurisdiction over Pandan.
Balilo said the government would extend assistance to the fishermen through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
‘Next port of call’
He also explained that the sinking of the Ruel J was the result of an “allision.”
“In layman’s terms, an allision is [when] a boat is moving and the other boat is stationary and it is hit by the moving boat,” Balilo said.
“This is different from a collision wherein both vessels are moving,” he added.
In any case, Balilo reiterated the PCG’s assurance that the incident would be discussed further with China.
“Well, we will continue to follow up our coordinations with the China Maritime Safety Administration (China MSA) and even with Indonesia’s Port State Control,” he said, noting that the latter was “the next port of call.”
“[This is] so that they also know that there is an incident and they can take appropriate action,” explained the PCG spokesperson.
Balilo said he also expects China MSA “to take appropriate steps to find out what really happened.”
“That’s the only thing we can do because according to the rules, they have jurisdiction over the ship involved in the incident,” he said.