Search and rescue ongoing for missing Filipino crew after boat collided with Hong Kong vessel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 29) — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Monday that it is searching for missing fishermen and passengers in the vicinity of Occidental Mindoro where a Hong Kong flagged-cargo vessel collided with a fishing boat carrying 14 Filipinos.

PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo bared that the collision happened in Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro early Sunday. The missing Filipino crew were on board F/V Liberty 5 from Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi Island on the way to Navotas.

The Hong Kong vessel M/V Vienna Wood, which departed from Subic and was supposedly on the way to Australia, is now being escorted by the PCG to Batangas for further investigation.

"The involved missing crew, as reported, is 12. We are already conducting search and rescue. We have a floating asset in the area and other teams are on standby," Balilo said in an interview with CNN Philippines' New Day.

In an updated report, the PCG said the 12-man crew includes the captain of the fishing boat. Two passengers were also on board.

"Some of our rescue personnel already sighted the overturned fishing boat," he added. "We will check the vicinity to find out the whereabouts of the fishermen involved."

Balilo said a PCG Islander plane and an Airbus helicopter are being deployed to assist in the operation. They will also deploy another multi-role response vessel to further intensify the search and rescue.

Those who will be located will be brought to the nearest Coast Guard station in Mindoro for medical protocol, he added.

Balilo also said that they are in close coordination with the captain of the Hong Kong Vessel.

"We are asking for the details of the incident. He is very cooperative."

Last year, a Chinese vessel sank and abandoned at the Recto Bank the Philippine boat F/B Gem-Ver-1, which carried 22 Filipino fishermen from Occidental Mindoro.

They still have yet to receive compensation from the owners of the Chinese vessel up to this day.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the latest incident will be tried and resolved by Philippine courts under local admiralty and maritime laws.

"There is no international law application here other than foreign flag ships can sail through under the concept of innocent passage. As far as accountability is concerned, mga Pilipino po ang madedesisyon diyan dahil ang banggaan ay nangyari sa ating karagatan [Filipino judges will decide on the case because the collision happened in our territorial waters]," Roque said in his Monday press briefing.

He added that he expects no impact on the country's diplomatic ties with Hong Kong, China, or the rest of the region, saying that rules covering such maritime incidents are similar to those applied when cars collide on land.