Hontiveros: Arrest Chinese crew of dredging ship sans work permits
MANILA, Philippines — Authorities should immediately arrest and prosecute the crew of a Chinese-manned dredging vessel in Batangas if proven they are in the area without any legal authority, opposition Senator Risa Hotiveros said on Thursday.
The large Chinese-manned ship—MV Emerald — a 2,990-ton hopper dredger— was reportedly docked close to a fishing village in Lobo town in Batangas.
Reports said the hopper dredger would be used in desilting the Lobo River in the province.
“I call on our authorities to investigate this matter and ascertain for sure if the crew of the Chinese dredging vessel has all the necessary documents, permits and clearances from our government,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“They must be immediately arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law if proven that they are in the area without any legal authority,” she added.
Hontiveros said she would file a resolution in the Senate to investigate the presence of illegal Chinese vessels in the country.
This, after the Philippine military reported that more than 600 Chinese fishing vessels were monitored to be circling Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea since January this year.
But the military reportedly clarified later that the number of Chinese vessels were only 275, and not 617 as earlier reported in the media.
Hontiveros, nevertheless, pointed out that the reported presence of said Chinese vessels, “fall under the category of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) which breaks fisheries laws or occurs outside the reach of fisheries laws and regulation.”
“Is the Duterte administration still in full control of our waters and territories, or have they surrendered them already to China?” she asked.
“The illegal, unreported and unregulated presence of numerous Chinese vessels in our territories is extremely bothering. China is not only a state sponsor to illegal fishing, it is also openly disregarding our sovereignty and marine jurisdiction. It is a deep and dangerous incursion into our territories,” said the senator.
In calling for a Senate probe, Hontiveros said the public deserves to know what steps the government has taken to seek the assistance of the international community in responding to China’s IUU fishing.
The senator said she also wants to assess the overall foreign and security policy direction of the government in dealing with the continuing Chinese incursions into Philippine waters. /muf
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