Press Release
June 16, 2019

Drilon: Sinking of PHL boat part of China's bullying tactic to assert power over WPS

The Chinese vessel's sinking of a Filipino boat, endangering the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen, who were left clinging on for their lives for hours, was part of China's bullying tactics to assert its territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said on Sunday, as he continued to put pressure on the administration to elevate the issue to international organizations such as the United Nations (UN).

"Ito'y hindi lang isang banggaan ng dalawang fishing vessels. Sa akin, ito ay nagpapakita ng nakakabahalang mindset ng China na apihin ang Pilipinas dahil sa ating claims sa West Philippine Sea (This is not just a collision of two fishing vessels. To me, this revealed the alarming mindset of China, which is to bully the Philippines because of our claims in the West Philippine Sea)," Drilon said in an interview by radio station DZBB.

"It should be taken in that context. This is not just an isolated incident. I see a clear pattern of bullying and intimidation," Drilon stressed.

Drilon said that the incident clearly showed that China is keen on taking full sovereignty over the WPS.

"Ang sinasabi nila sa nangyari, babanggain namin kayo para ipakita na bawal kayo rito," Drilon said.

"We should hold China responsible for this incident. We can elevate this case to the United Nations and other international forum," Drilon said.

Drilon said that the issue involved the country's sovereignty and its pride as a nation and, therefore, the government must be able to speak up and stand up to a bully like China.

"It is important that the government is able to assert our sovereignty and point out the indignity they committed against our people. It is something that we must do and sustain," he emphasized.

Drilon said that a multi-lateral approach in resolving the WPS issue can be more favorable to the Philippines, agreeing with the observations that the Duterte administration's bilateral approach and policy of appeasement is not effective.

"For the stability and peace in the WPS, all claimants, not just the Philippines and China, should the discuss the matter," he said.

The Chinese government's statement that the Chinese vessel, Chinese trawler Yuemaobinyu 42212, accidentaly "bumped" into a Filipino fishing boat, FB Gem-Vir 1, did not sit well with Drilon.

"Sa lenggawe sa kalsada, masyado naman tayong ginagago ng pamahalaan ng China," Drilon said furiously.

Drilon, a former justice secretary, said that is clear from the accounts of the Filipino fishermen and the circumstances by which the Vietnamese vessel found and rescued the Filipino crew, that the Filipinos were abandoned after the Chinese vessel hit their boat.

He said that it is evident that China violated the provisions of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Drilon said the Chinese government owed the Filipino people an apology.

"At the very least, we should demand an apology from them. Whether what happened is deliberate or an accident, they should apologize," he said.

The minority leader also hoped that the next Senate will take a more active stand on the issue of the WPS, agreeing with the observations that the issue was not given enough attention in the 17thCongress.

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