Dozens of Filipinos held a rally near the Presidential Palace in Manila on Wednesday, June 19, to condemn a statement Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made on Monday.

The protesters are angry because President Rodrigo Duterte described the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat hit by a Chinese vessel in the disputed South China Sea as “a little maritime accident.”

Protest leader Fernando Hicap said, “We are condemning the pro-China and anti-Filipino fishermen remark by President Duterte.”

Protest leader Fernando Hicap called President Rodrigo Duterte, stating that Duterte is “even defending the Chinese,” instead of speaking up for the Filipino fishermen whose life was endangered, on June 19, 2019. (Screenshot/AP Video)

Standing beside a splintered boat, the protesters chanted calling “Duterte, lapdog of China, traitor to sovereignty!”

Hicap stated the way Duterte responded to the boat-sinking incident as proof that he is China’s lapdog.

Duterte is “even defending the Chinese,” instead of speaking up for the Filipino fishermen whose life was endangered, said Hicap.

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Protesters chanted, “China get out! Philippines is ours.” They hold placards in English and Mandarin, showing “China, leave our waters.”

Earlier, Duterte said the June 9 boat collision at Reed Bank must not be blown out of proportion and that China’s side should be heard. His reaction, however, strongly contrasts with that of some of his officials.

Earlier, the Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana strongly condemned the alleged actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for leaving the collision scene immediately and abandoning the 22 Filipino crew members in the high seas.

Likewise, an opposition senator requested Duterte to recall the Philippine ambassador and consuls in China and pressure Beijing to identify and punish the Chinese crew members allegedly involved in the incident.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs had already filed a diplomatic protest against China.

In a separate rally in Manila, Filipino protesters burned small Chinese Communist flags, while chanting, “Philippines is ours, China get out!,” on June 19, 2019. (Screenshot/AP Video)

Meanwhile, the Chinese communist regime acknowledged its fishing boat had rammed a Filipino boat near Reed Bank, but denied the collision was intentional.

On Tuesday, dozens of Filipino protesters burned 22 small Chinese flags, while chanting, “Philippines is ours, China get out!” in the capital city of Manila.

The sinking of the Filipino fishing boat near Reed Bank is one of the latest most significant incidents between Chinese and Filipino fishermen, just as Sino-Philippine relations improve under Duterte’s presidency.