The Philippines is set to deploy Coast Guard vessels to Recto (Reed) Bank to protect Filipino fishermen in the area following the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said Tuesday.
"I believe the move of the government will be to dispatch Coast Guard vessels in the area. And also, we are now in the process of installing transponders in all of our fishing boats under the vessel monitoring system that we're implementing in the Department of Agriculture. So if we need to escort the fishermen back to the area, we will do it," Piñol said in an interview on ANC.
He said the Philippine government also wants Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua to shed light on the alleged ramming and abandonment of a Chinese vessel to a Filipino fishing boat near the Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea on June 9.
"I think it was agreed by the cluster that the Chinese ambassador should be invited or summoned, whichever word is more appropriate, to officially shed light on the incident," he said.
The Filipino vessel was anchored near Reed Bank -- claimed by both Manila and Beijing -- last June 9 when it was hit by a Chinese vessel, causing it to sink and leaving 22 crewmen "to the mercy of the elements," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said.
Manila has filed a diplomatic protest against Beijing as Duterte aides and critics alike blasted how the Chinese boat left the fishermen in the open sea.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said the sinking was just "a maritime incident."
The Chinese Embassy in Manila earlier denied that a Chinese ship abandoned Filipino fishermen after sinking their boat near Reed Bank.
The embassy said the Chinese captain attempted to rescue the Filipino fishermen but was "afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats."
"Therefore, having confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued on board of other Filipino fishing boats, 42212 sailed away from the scene. The above shows that there is no such thing as 'hit-and-run,'" it said.