Locsin questions U.S., excuses China over Philippine boat

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr questioned the United States but excused China on Saturday, June 15, over their statements on the sinking of a Philippine boat in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Locsin was reacting to China's statement that there was no hit-and-run in the West Philippine Sea, and that the Chinese ship was in fact "besieged" by 7 or 8 Filipino boats, supposedly preventing it from helping the fishermen of sunken Filipino boat F/B Gem-Ver. China's claim contradicted the statement of Gem-Ver's captain, who said the Chinese ship intentionally sank their vessel. 

Locsin was also addressing the US statement urging parties against "coercion and intimidation" to assert maritime claims. 

Reacting to China's claim, Locsin said: "Interesting. That's China's take and it is a free world; it can say anything it wants. We say what we want because it is a free world for us too; but in our case we speak from the law of the sea. But still everyone's free."

He earlier tweeted that he has filed a diplomatic protest against China, but the Department of Foreign Affairs has not confirmed this claim through a formal statement. 

Locsin on the other hand questioned the US. "Why is the US including the Philippines in its urging against coercion?" 

He also cast doubt on the US' commitment to use its power "to uphold the sovereign rights of the littoral states of Southeast Asia."

"Freedom of navigation in the South China Sea by itself is merely freedom to walk in a zoo past cages of animals. Freedom of navigation to mean anything includes willingness to use US power to uphold the sovereign rights of the littoral states of Southeast Asia. Or it is nothing," said Locsin.

At the same time, Locsin reacted to the Gem-Ver captain's assertion that a Chinese ship intentionally sank their boat. Locsin was answering a request for comment from Rappler about this.

Locsin tweeted in response to Rappler: "Well thank the friggin' Lord because guys like you egged me to fire off a diplomatic protest based on intel report based on the fishermen's stories. If they say different I'm gonna get really pissed and that's never good for people who make me stick my neck out for them."

The sinking of Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver is a first in the decades-long dispute between Manila and Beijing over the West Philippine Sea. The incident took place near Recto Bank (Reed Bank), an underwater reef formation that is said to contain huge reserves of oil and natural gas.

Locsin earlier lashed out at the international community, too, when asked if the Philippines will call for international support over the sinking of a Philippine boat.  

"Fuck the international community. It can be bought. This is our fight and in the end ours alone," Locsin said. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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