By Felipe Salvosa 

Disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea | ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE IMAGE

Manila has filed a diplomatic protest over the sinking of a Philippine vessel by a Chinese ship and the abandonment of 22 Filipino crew at the West Philippine Sea, and this “strong” action is enough for now, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Thursday.

“Malakas na nga iyong ginawa natin, binanatan na kaagad natin immediately. ‘Antayin natin kung anong resulta (What we did was strong enough, we hit hard immediately. Let’s wait for the result,” Panelo said in a press briefing.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Twitter that he filed the protest on Wednesday.

Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, bristled at suggestions that Manila’s response was not strong enough.

“What do you want? You want to declare war? [T]he first thing you should — diplomatic protest — we call on the Chinese government to probe the incident and to impose punitive action against those at fault,” he said.

The Palace spokesman said the President was aware of the June 9 incident at Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea and was “outraged” by it.

“Whether it’s a form of bullying or not, it’s outrageous, it’s barbaric, it’s uncivilized and we’re condemning it, Panelo said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged the President “to immediately order the recall of our ambassador and all our consuls in China.”

“It stands to reason that if President Duterte can order the recall of our envoy and consuls in Canada over a dispute on garbage, he can do the same to defend and secure the lives of our fisherfolk and the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the opposition senator said.

Locsin responded that the recall of envoys was his job. “And I do take suggestions; but of course I don’t necessarily follow them to the letter or at all. My prerogative in the first instance but ultimately the President’s call. Wait for me to finish what I’m doing,” he said on Twitter.


Sen. Richard Gordon, a Duterte ally, said that what the Chinese crew did was inhumane and a violation of international law.

The abandoned Filipino crew was rescued by a Vietnamese vessel. The Philippine vessel was anchored when it was hit by the Chinese vessel at Recto Bank on Sunday.

“I take umbrage at the Chinese crew’s act of leaving and abandoning the Filipino crew after their boat collided with the latter’s vessel and sank near the Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea last Sunday. They committed acts of inhumanity by leaving and abandoning people who are in peril of the sea and they should answer for it,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Franklin Drilon noted that under Article 98 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), every state is required to render assistance to any person in distress or in danger of being lost at sea.

The Senate minority leader explained that under Unclos, “it is the duty of the state to oblige masters of vessels flying their flag to follow the provision; therefore, both State-owned vessels and private vessels flying the State’s flag are mandated to render assistance to people in distress at sea.”

“What do you call a friend who abandons a friend in times of need?” Drilon asked.