MANILA — The Philippines and China both seek “closure” over the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat in the disputed South China Sea, which raised fresh diplomatic tensions, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Beijing, through its envoy, has relayed to the Philippines its desire to resolve the issue which has dragged on for nearly a month according to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.
“We have to put closure to this because our relations are being affected,” Panelo said, quoting a supposed text message from Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua.
Filipinos have publicly condemned the abandonment of 22 Filipino fishermen by a Chinese crew which sunk their boat last June 9 near Reed Bank (Recto Bank).
China denied that its men abandoned the Filipino fishermen, who were rescued by a Vietnamese ship. It said the captain of the Chinese ship tried to save them but was "afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats."
A joint investigation between the 2 countries is already underway to determine whether the allision was intentional.
“We want peace in that region. We don't want our countrymen who are fishing there to be subject of any assault,” Panelo said.