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Philippines’ Duterte downplays boat sinking

Philippines’ Duterte downplays boat sinking

DPA
Manila
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday rejected calls for the government to send navy warships to the disputed South China Sea following the sinking of a Filipino boat by a Chinese vessel that allegedly left the scene without helping the crew members.
Duterte said the collision between the Filipino boat FB Gemvir 1 and the Chinese ship Yuemaobinyu 42212 near Reed Bank on June 9 was a “little maritime accident” that “is best investigated.”
“You do not send gray ships there,” he said in a speech at the anniversary of the founding of the Philippine Navy. “That is just a boat collision. Do not make it worse because that is a fertile ground for (armed confrontation.)”
“Soldiers know that with miscommunication there, you’re dead,” he added. “We are not yet ready (for war). And we can never be ready in a nuclear war.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs has already filed a diplomatic protest with Beijing over the incident, but some politicians and the public have called for a stronger response such as sending Philippine Navy warships to protect the country’s territories.
Duterte said he understands the public outrage over the incident and wold also want to take action for what happened, but stressed, “Do not allow a little maritime accident, whether intentional, to go to our head.”
The president , who is often quick to issue harsh statements against foreign governments, said it was important to have an investigation into the incident to determine what really happened.

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