The Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier Vienna Wood N that collided with local fishing vessel FV Liberty 5 on Sunday which resulted in at least 14 Filipinos gone missing.

MANILA – The collision between a Philippine fishing boat and a Hong Kong-flagged cargo vessel off the coast of Occidental Mindoro will be resolved under the country’s admiralty laws because the incident happened in Philippine territorial waters.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) disclosed that Hong Kong-registered bulk carrier vessel, MV Vienna Wood collided with local fishing vessel FV Liberty 5 on Sunday which resulted in at least 14 Filipinos gone missing.

“This is an issue of Philippine admiralty law because the collision occurred in Philippine territorial waters,” Roque said in a virtual presser on Monday.

Roque, a lawyer, said that because the incident happened in Philippine waters, international law will not apply.

“There is no international law application here other than foreign flagships can sail through under the concept of innocent passage but as far as accountability is concerned, mga Pilipino po magdedesisyon diyan dahil ang bangaan po ay nangyari sa ating karagatan (Filipinos will make the decision because the collision took place in our sea),” he said.

Meanwhile, Roque said the sea mishap will have no implication on the relationship between the Philippines and China as well as other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

“Ang rules ng banggaan sa karagatan, parehong-pareho po ‘yan ng rules sa ina-apply pag may banggaan sa kalye. So wala naman pong malaking implikasyon ‘yan, banggaan lang po ‘yan (The rules of collisions at seat are the same as rules being applied if there are collisions in the streets. There the collision has no huge implication, it’s just a collision),” he said.

In the recently-concluded 36th annual Asean summit, President Rodrigo Duterte enjoined the other Asean members to look for “innovative” ways to resolve the long-standing disputes in the resource-rich South China Sea.

PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said the foreign cargo vessel was sailing to Australia from Subic, while the fishing boat, which departed from Cagayan de Oro and Tawi-Tawi, was on its way to the Navotas Fish Port when the collision happened at 1 a.m.

Coast Guard District Commander for Southern Tagalog Commodore Leovegildo Panopio said the PCG “held” in the custody the foreign vessel and its crew “because they have a liability.”

He said MV Vienna would be brought in the PCG’s Batangas headquarters on Monday.

In June 2019, Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver 1, also from Occidental Mindoro, was rammed by a Chinese vessel at Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

A total of 22 Filipino fishermen from San Jose, Occidental Mindoro were subsequently rescued by a Vietnamese vessel and later transferred to a Philippine Navy ship. (PNA)