MANILA -- Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday said the crew of the Chinese vessel which hit and sank a Filipino fishing boat in the West Philippine Sea should be made to stand trial in the Philippines.
Robredo said that while the Philippines acknowledges China's statement that it will investigate the incident, the Department of Foreign Affairs should still "demand from the Chinese government to find those responsible and recognize Philippine jurisdiction, so they can face trial before our courts."
"Justice for the 22 Filipino fishermen requires that our courts assume jurisdiction," Robredo said in a statement.
The Vice President also scored the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte for adopting "a less assertive policy" in the country's territorial dispute with China.
"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," Robredo said.
She called on the government to adopt a shift in policy "from being passive to being more courageous in asserting our rights."
"This is the time where we expect our leaders to be true to their oath and speak, act, and do what is needed to defend the dignity of our nation, and every Filipino."
Duterte has yet to make any public comment on the incident, although Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said Duterte was "outraged" by the sinking of the Philippine fishing boat.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. meanwhile said he has already lodged a diplomatic protest with China over the sinking.
The captain of the boat that was sunk is set to meet Duterte on Monday, June 17.
Junel Insigne also took exception over what he said was a Cabinet official's remark that the sinking of the Filipino vessel may have been "accidental" as only a part of the boat was hit by the Chinese boat.