The Philippine Coast Guard yesterday boarded a a Chinese-flag cargo ship seized near the islands of Carnasa and Malapascua in Daanbantayan town in northern Cebu.
Maritime authorities boarded the MV Ming Yuan a day after villagers notified barangay officials and police of its presence.
The freighter had been anchored suspiciously off a dive resort for about three weeks.
Rex Novabos, chairman of barangay Logon on Malapascua island, said residents feared the foreign vessel may be there to extract the island’s prized white beach sand.
Commander Weniel Azcuna, operations officer of the PCG Central Visayas District, said the skipper of the MV Ming Yuan told coast guard officials they were waiting for their cargo of “iron sand” to arrive in Isabel, Leyte province, about 35 nautical miles away. The cargo hold was empty.
Representatives of the bureaus of customs, quarantime and immigration also boarded the ship.
The vessel, a Hong Kong-registered bulk carrier, had come from Taiwan. The crew failed to notify the Coast Guard of its presence.
Passports and seaman’s books of the 24 crew members were confiscated. Their names were written in Chinese characters. The skipper, who spoke a little English, told the Coast Guard the ship was supposed to deliver “iron sand”.
The ship dropped anchor about three weeks ago. Daanbantayan town is 147 km north of Cebu City.
The barangay chief only alerted police and Bantay Dagat on Thursday.
Authorities are checking for any violations other than the failure to submit a notice of arrival. It wil be advised to dock at the Coast Guard detachment in Hagnaya, San Remegio town to settle corresponding penalties./Correspondents Michelle Joy L. Padayhag, Fe Marie D. Dumaboc and Carine M. Asutilla