Vice President Leni Robredo has urged the Duterte administration to adopt a tougher stance on China after a Chinese vessel sank a Filipino boat in the West Philippine Sea on June 9.
In a statement Sunday (June 16), Robredo said the government should stand up for the country’s rights following the incident.
“Now is the time for a shift in policy, from being passive to being more courageous in asserting our rights. From bowing our heads in subservience, to holding our heads up high as a free and independent people,” she said.
Robredo said the incident was bound to happen as the administration refuses to assert the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea, which were upheld by a favorable ruling by an international arbitral tribunal.
“Its failure to consistently contest Chinese encroachment in our waters was inevitably going to result in less and less respect of our laws and sovereignty from China—and to the direct harm of our people,” she said.
The 22 fishermen on board F/B Gemvir claimed their boat was hit by a Chinese vessel while it was anchored on Recto Bank. They were left drifting at sea until they were rescued by a Vietnamese boat.
China, however, denied the incident was a so-called “hit and run,” saying it was the Chinese vessel that was “besieged” by seven to eight Filipino boats.
President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to speak up on the incident.