Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr at the UN headquarters on June 17. Photo: Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs
“The 22 Filipino crew were left in the water until a Vietnamese vessel took them on board. We are eternally grateful, we are eternally in debt to our strategic partner, Vietnam, for this act of mercy and decency,” Locsin said in a speech on June 17 at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Locsin raised the boat sinking case speaking at the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the enforcement of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), according to the Rappler.
In his speech, the Philippines’ top diplomat slammed the “felony” of abandoning persons in distress.
Locsin’s accusation came following the case in which Chinese ship Yuemaobinyu 42212 hit and rammed Filipino ship F/B Gemvir with 22 crew members aboard on June 9 and ran away in Reed Bank or Recto Bank (11°20′N 116°50′E) in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands.
Locsin delivered his UN speech hours after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed the boat sinking at Recto Bank as a “maritime incident.”
On June 14, the Chinese embassy in Manila confirmed that the vessel that sank the Filipino fishing boat was indeed Chinese, but that its crew had to abandon efforts to rescue the beleaguered fishermen after getting “besieged” by seven to eight other Filipino boats. The Philippines immediately rejected Beijing’s claims.
Justine Pascual (left) and JP Gordiones (right) recall the moments they were rescued. Photo Rappler/LeAnne Jazul
On the same day, the crew men told media that they were rescued at sea by Vietnamese fishermen.
On June 18, Pham Anh Tuan, deputy head of People’s Committee in Vietnam’s southern province of Tien Giang affirmed that 10 crew men on board TG-90983-TS owned by Ngo Van Theng had rescued the Filipino crew in distress at sea, according to the Vietnamese newspaper Thanh Nien.
One of Filipino crew narrated that after he connected his index fingers to demonstrate “Vietnam? Philippines? Friends,” the Vietnamese replied, “Okay”, the Rappler reported.
Meanwhile, the ABS-CBN News reported that boat captain Junel Insigne said the Chinese fishing vessel stopped for a while and flashed its lights.
Instead of rescuing the distressed fishermen, the Chinese fishing vessel maneuvered in reverse and rushed off, Insigne recalled.
After two hours, the two Filipino crew members reached a boat. Based on its appearance, they were able to determine that it was from Vietnam. They rowed to the rear then a fisherman named Pascual yelled “Help me!”
They dropped us a nylon cord and they pulled us up. They allowed us to board, said Filipino fisherman Gordiones.
The Vietnamese also pulled the rest of the Filipino crew on board, then fed them afterwards with chicken, noodles, and biscuits.
Thanks to the Vietnamese crew, Insigne was able to radio the information to the Philippines.
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