China Ship rammed Filipino Fisherman in Payaw off 78 NM Pangasinan- 1 dead, 4 missing 3 CD

A china ship with label "Hong Kong" rammed Filipino Fishing ship resting in "Payaw", a Philippine Government made artificial fish Sanctuary 78 Nautical Miles of Bolinao Pangasinan.

 A group of Filipino fishermen who were rescued after three days at sea has told authorities on Sunday (June 24, 2012) that their boat sank after being rammed by a Chinese vessel in the waters of Pangasinan Province.

The incident happened in the North of Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) where the Philippines and China have been engaged in a tense standoff since April 2012.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant Vice Admiral Edmund Tan said on Sunday that four of the eight crew members of fishing vessel F/B Axl John were rescued last Saturday morning along the vicinity off Magsingal town in Ilocos Sur after the said vessel was reportedly rammed by a much bigger unidentified shipping vessel while taking shelter along a nearby "Payaw", (better known as artificial fish sanctuary) last June 20 along the vicinity off Bolinao in Pangasinan.

Tan disclosed that the group of eight which all came from the town of Bolinao went out for fishing venture last June 18 despite rough seas based on the report given to them by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Pangasinan.

Around 11:45 p.m. of June 19, F/B Axl John was already filled with too much amount of sea water due to big waves and caused the fishing vessel to be partially submerged few hours later but the crew fortunately manage to secure the vessel to a nearby "Payaw" located around 78-nautical miles northwest of Bolinao where they take shelter and started to conduct some repairs to their damage vessel.

The PCG chief explained that while the crew members are continuing to fix the damage suffered by the vessel, another vessel making its way northward suddenly rammed the "Payaw" and the Axl John causing all the eight fishermen onboard to drift into different direction.

The boat owner identified as Jonalyn Hondrado who is a resident of Barangay Concordia in Bolinao said she received a phone call from Posio Balmores, the boat operator saying that the Axl John was rammed by what appeared to be Chinese vessel while it was anchored at the said fish sanctuary.

On the boat with Balmores were Christopher Carbonel, Lino Damian, Boy Balmores, Fred Celino, Arnold Garcia, Domy delos Santos and Amante Resonable, residents of Barangay Concordia and Barangay Arnedo.

Both Posio and Boy Balmores together with Damian and  Christopher  Carbonel were rescued around 8 a.m. of Saturday in the vicinity waters of Magsingal in Ilocos Sur and they were brought at the Gabriela Hospital in Vigan City for immediate medical treatment.

Unfortunately, Christopher Carbonel, 32 year old from island village of Dewey in Bolinao died few minutes later while his other comrade is still under observation while the two others were discharged on Sunday and were brought back to Bolinao.

Meanwhile, still missing are Celino, Garcia, Delos Santos and Resonable.

Tan on Sunday dispatched one the agency's rescue vessel, Tug Boat-271 to conduct a follow-up search and rescue operations for the three missing crew along the vicinity off Ilocos Sur.

A Notice to Mariners was also issued in all the maritime vessels in the nearby areas to be on watch out for the said three fishermen and render immediate assistance when spotted.

Philippine authorities could not immediately verify if the vessel that hit the Axl John was Chinese.

Office of Civil Defense chief Benito Ramos was quoted by the Agence France Presse as saying the incident occurred north of Scarborough Shoal where the Philippines and China have been engaged in a tense stand-off since April.

"It's north of the Scarborough, though we could not determine how far in terms of distance or nautical miles," Ramos said.

Vice Admiral Tan meanwhile said that based on the statement given to them by one of the survivors, the vessel that rammed them was marked with blue and maroon paint both on the top and freeboard portions while a word "HONGKONG" was seen somewhere near the rear part of the ship.

The stand-off at Scarborough began in April, when a Philippine Navy ship tried to apprehend Chinese fishermen allegedly poaching in the shoal.

Chinese maritime security vessels prevented the PH Navy and Coast Guard from arresting the Chinese fishermen or confiscating their cargo of live sharks, clams and coral. –with additional reports from Agence France Presse.

The of recent clash is not exactly at the Panatag Shoal but it is in the northern part of the Shoal 78 Nautical miles in the waters of Bolinao, Pangasinan. The Philippines and China have been engaged in a tense standoff since April 2012 closer this area.

President Aquino earlier this month ordered two Philippine ships to pull out from the shoal during bad weather, a move that the Chinese said calmed tensions in the area.

While China said it would also ask its fishermen to leave the area, it stressed it had no intention of pulling out its bigger ships from there.

Last week, Aquino said the government will be re-deploying ships if Chinese vessels remain in the area.

"The guidelines are very clear," Aquino said.

"If there are vessels that are not ours, we have to send back our vessels. I have ordered them back (to port) because of the weather condition.

"If there's a presence in our territorial waters, then we will redeploy. But if there is no other presence or other vessels that might impinge on our sovereignty, there's no need to deploy," he clarified.

As of last week, there were still seven Chinese ships at the shoal, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The dispute erupted in April after Chinese government vessels blocked Philippine authorities from arresting Chinese fishermen who were caught poaching and illegally harvesting endangered marine species like giant coral and sharks near the shoal.

Since then, both countries have maintained ships there to press their respective claims to the area.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighboring countries.

The Philippines says the shoal is well within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

The shoal sits about 230 kilometers (124 nautical miles) off Masinloc town in Zambales. The nearest major Chinese landmass is 1,200 kilometers northwest of the shoal, according to Philippine Navy maps.

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