Philippines probes deaths of 2 Vietnamese fishermen

Philippines probes deaths of 2 Vietnamese fishermen

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken measures to protect Vietnamese citizens in the Philippines after receiving reports that the Philippine coast guard force fired at fishing vessel PY 96173 TS of Phú Yên Province, killing two and seizing a number of other fishermen.

"We would like to offer our sympathies over the unfortunate loss of life and give you our assurance that we will conduct a fair and thorough investigation into this matter", a Department of Foreign Affairs statement issued in Manila quoted Cayetano as telling Minh.

When the Vietnamese boat was caught, the crew surrendered and two fishermen were found dead.

The DFA said those who were arrested "will be accorded proper treatment" and "can be accessed anytime" by Vietnamese embassy officials.

Cayetano said investigating teams from the Navy, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police have already been dispatched to Pangasinan to look into the incident.

Covvarubias said the incident happened within the 200-nautical-mile (370-kilometer) Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines, a stretch of ocean where a coastal state has exclusive rights to fish and exploit other sea resources although foreign ships could pass through.


That incident triggered a diplomatic spat, with Taiwan suspending the hiring of Philippine workers and recalling its envoy to Manila in protest.

"The information that we got is a Vietnamese fishing boat hit the navy ship", Covvarubias said, adding that "a Vietnamese fishing vessel was being apprehended" when the confrontation happened.

The Filipino sailors chased the Vietnamese fishing vessels, one of which "initiated very unsafe maneuvers that resulted in it slamming into the left front and left center of the Philippine patrol vessel", the department said.

"The navy ship spotted the six fishing boats (which were) using bright lights to attract fish". The use of lights for that goal is prohibited under Philippine law.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized for his response on perceived Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, where Beijing has built several artificial islands to assert its claim to nearly the entire body of water.

Vietnam's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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