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Philippine bishops decry China’s ‘continuous bullying’

MANILA (UCAN): “They have no respect for our territory nor respect for Filipino lives,” Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, the Philippines said, following the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat and the abandonment of its crew by a Chinese vessel on June 9. He called the incident a manifestation of China’s lack of respect for Philippine sovereignty.
He joined at least two other Catholic bishops in the growing protest in Manila against what they described as China’s “continuous bullying…”
The Chinese fishing vessel struck the Philippine boat while it was at anchor near Reed Bank in the South China Sea, and left the 22 Filipinos aboard as it sank.
A Vietnamese fishing boat later rescued the crew.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, said the incident showed that China “could not be trusted and they really have selfish, vested interests” in the South China Sea’s contested waters and islands.
“If they are really our friends and neighbours who propagate common peace and prosperity among Asians they should have avoided provocation, maintained restraint and helped our 22 fishermen,” the bishop said.
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, called on the Philippine government to investigate the incident. He said Manila should demand an explanation.
“We should demand to know why the Filipino fishermen were not rescued and given proper care,” Bishop Pabillo said.
The Philippine government has already called on China to sanction the crew of the Chinese vessel.
“We call on the appropriate Chinese authorities to probe the collision and impose the proper sanctions on the Chinese crew,” Philippine presidential spokesperson, Salvador Panelo said.
He said the alleged abandonment by the Chinese vessel of the Filipino fishermen was “uncivilised as it was outrageous,” adding, “Such an act of desertion is inhuman as it is barbaric.” 
The collision was only announced to the media by the Philippine Department of Defense on June 12.

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