IBTimes UK

Malaysia will punish navy personnel who beat up Filipino fishermen near a reef in the West Philippine Sea, the top foreign affairs official in Manila has said.

"The Malaysian government regrets the incident. They have informed us they are already in the process of the punishments for the people who did it. In any form, whether agitated or not, beating up is not acceptable," Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Rene Almendras said, GMA News reported.

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) earlier said it was investigating if Philippine fishermen were detained and harassed by its personnel near the reef which Philippines claims as its own.

Malaysia has also expressed willingness to offer compensation for the three Philippine fishermen who were arrested by a Malaysian patrol team on May 9, the report said.

The fishermen were approaching Commodore Reef, which is claimed by Philippines but the navy personnel accused them of encroaching into Malaysian territory.

The Royal Malaysian Navy said the fishermen used two vessels to sail into Gugusan Semarang Peninjau.

The main boat responded to RNM's call to hand over the documents but one of the crew members jumped into the sea to avoid arrest. The RMN's Team Menggeladah somehow managed to save the individual.

The RMN said it allowed the three crew members to return to their main boat after the checks were completed. However, the crew members claimed they were treated badly. They also said their small boat was sunk.

The Manila Times reported on May 23 that the crew members complained they were handcuffed, kicked and punched during their brief detention.

IBTimes UK