Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is suspecting that a Chinese maritime militia vessel highly likely rammed the Filipino fishing vessel F/B Gimver I in Recto (Reed) Bank midnight of June 9.
“China’s maritime militia vessels have reinforced steel hulls purposely for ramming fishing vessels of other coastal states. No other coastal state has fishing vessels purposely designed for ramming other fishing vessels. Captains of ordinary Chinese fishing vessels do not engage in ramming for fear of inflicting damage to their own vessels,” Justice Carpio explained.
He noted that ramming of the Filipino fishing vessel, anchored well within Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, is a clear violation of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
He said that “the Chinese maritime militias are trained, equipped and organized by the Navy of the PLA.”
“While at sea, Chinese maritime militia vessels are under the chain of command of the PLA. They are equipped with satellite radio communications and can communicate at any time with their local PLA commanders,” he added.
Carpio also noted that “China’s maritime militia vessels have been ramming Vietnamese vessels in the Paracels for several years now. This is the first time that a Chinese maritime militia vessel has rammed a Filipino fishing vessel. Previously, Chinese maritime militia vessels just loitered in the territorial sea of Pag-asa Island and other Philippine-occupied geologic features in the Spratlys, intimidating the Filipino occupants of these features.”
“The ramming of F/B Gimver 1 is a quantum escalation of China’s aggressive acts against the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea. This may signal the start of a new ‘gray zone’ 2 offensive by China to drive away Filipino fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea, in the same way that China is driving away Vietnamese fishing vessels in the Paracels,” he explained.
“The Filipino people must demand from China compensation for the owner of F/B Gimver 1, and punishment for the captain and crew of the Chinese vessel that rammed in hit-and-run fashion F/B Gimver 1. The Filipino people must send a strong signal to China that any new ‘grey zone’ offensive of ramming Filipino fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea will mean a break of diplomatic ties with China,” Carpio said.