Coast Guard can’t order dredging ship to leave Batangas
MANILA, Philippines — The dredging vessel anchored a few hundred meters off the shores of Lobo, Batangas, has not made any violations and cannot be ordered to leave, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Thursday.
PCG Spokesperson Captain Armand Balilo said they could not take any action as the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) allowed the Chinese ship to docked at the area.
“Pinayagan din sila ng PPA na mag-anchor doon dahil anchorage area naman talaga ‘yong kanilang pinagbagsakan ng anchor,” Balilo told Radyo Inquirer.
“Hindi ho (sila mapapaalis), nagbabayad ho sila ng anchorage fee do’n sa PPA. Anchorage area ‘yong kanilang kinasasadlakan ngayon. At kahit anong barko basta may bayad sa PPA, pwedeng mag-anchor doon,” he added.
Balilo clarified that dredging ship was based in Singapore and was registered in an African country.
According to the website www.marinetraffic.com, there is a hopper dredger vessel named “Emerald” anchored off Lobo, Batangas, and that it is from the west-African nation of Sierra Leone.
The ship is reportedly “Chinese manned.”
Balilo, there is no actual limit to how long the ship can stay in the area. However, he assured residents of Lobo that PCG personnel had been deployed to the area to monitor the situation.
“Walang timetable ito. Hangga’t merong permit at nagbabayad sila ng anchorage fee sa PPA ay makakapag-stay sila dyan,” he said.
“Pero kung nakikita namin na merong mga violation sa environment at sa safety, kami ay hindi magkikibit-balikat para hindi sila paalisin. Pero meantime na sila ay kumpleto ang papeles para mag-anchor sa area, kami ay magmo-monitor lang,” he noted.
On Tuesday, residents expressed concern over the sudden appearance of M/V Emerald, a 2,900 ton hopper-dredger which was anchored near its mangrove forest.
It was believed earlier that the 99-meter-long, 17-meter-wide ship sailed into Lobo’s waters without notifying local officials.
Various groups have criticized the government for allowing Chinese vessels to enter the country, with some saying other dredging ships were also docked in Zambales.
On Wednesday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) responded by suspending the ship’s Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).
Balilo noted though that the ship in Batangas had not yet engaged in actual dredging operations, as it was waiting on the local government’s approval of their request to enter the Lobo river.
“Una, wala pang dredging operations na ginawa itong barko. Nag-aantabay lang siya sa mga kausap nila sa local government unit kung sila ay papayagang pumasok sa Lobo river para mag-dredge ng buhangin,” he said.
“Tinignan natin ‘yong mga document nila, at lahat ng documents nila prior sa pag-kansela ng environmental compliance (certificate) nila kahapon, lahat ay kumpleto at maayos. So walang problema sa Philippine Coast Guard in terms of safety and security,” he said. /cbb
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