Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua speaks to President Rodrigo Duterte in this file photo taken during the New Year Vin d’Honneur reception at Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace on Jan. 11, 2017. | PHOTO BY TOTO LOZANO / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

China’s envoy to Manila said Beijing would not hesitate to punish and “educate” Chinese crewmen if they were proven to have intentionally collided with a Filipino vessel at the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said on Friday.

Quoting a text message from Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said: “If it were true that it was [a] Chinese fishing boat [that] did it, they would be duly educated and punished for their irresponsible behavior.”

Panelo said Manila won’t “politicize” the incident and would make a “calibrated” response.

The focus, he said, would be the Chinese crew’s alleged abandonment of the 22 Filipino crewmen as their boat sank near Recto Bank at midnight on Sunday, June 9.

“First, we are not politicizing that incident. What we’re focusing is on the act of abandoning, not the collision itself. Because collisions happen in the high seas. But the act of abandoning is in violation of the Unclos, the United Nations law of the seas. You don’t even need an international law provision on that. It’s a human act of lending a hand to someone in distress,” Panelo told the ABS-CBN News Channel.

San Jose, Occidental Mindoro Mayor Ronaldo Festin told reporters the Filipino crew of F/B Gimver 1 were “bullied” by the Chinese. (Felipe F. Salvosa II)