PCG clarifies: Dredging ship in Batangas not from China but…
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has clarified that the dredging ship anchored off Lobo, Batangas is not from China, saying that its nature of origin is actually Singapore.
However, PCG Spokesperson Captain Armand Balilo said on Thursday that Chinese nationals are manning the vessel, whose environmental compliance certificate (ECC) was recently revoked.
“Actually ho e daanan naman ito, wala namang problema dito. Naging controversial lang ito dahil sa sinasabing Chinese vessel, eh in fact chine-check ho namin eh Singaporean-based ito eh, at naka-register itong barko sa Africa,” he said in an interview with Radyo Inquirer.
(Actually, that is a sea lane and there is no problem with that. It just became controversial because some say it was a Chinese vessel, but in fact we have checked it and it is a Singaporean-based and registered in Africa.)
“Medyo allergic tayo [Filipinos] ‘pagka Chinese vessel [We are somewhat allergic when it’s a Chinese vessel],” he added.
In an entry on marinetraffic.com, a hopper dredger named M/V Emerald weighing 2,990 tons said to be currently situated in Batangas, Philippines, is carrying the Flag of Sierra Leone.
A close look at the ship’s stern shows the word “Freetown,” which is the capital of Sierra Leone.
Previous reports said that the ship was set to gather around two million cubic meters of sand from Lobo river for the construction of a runway in the Hong Kong International Airport’s Three Runway System Project.
Talks about the country’s relation with the Chinese have peaked up in recent weeks, after Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio revealed that China can seize patrimonial assets, including Recto Bank, if the Philippines fails to pay its loans to China.
Earlier, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) revealed that an “extraordinary surge of 600 ships were within Pag-asa Island waters, followed by claims of administration critics that Chinese vessels were engaged in dredging and quarrying operations in Lobo and Zambales.
The government has been criticized for allegedly not taking any action, but Malacañang officials said that they have filed a diplomatic protest about the Pag-asa Island issue.
Earlier, Balilo said that M/V Emerald, a 2,900 ton dredging ship cannot be ordered to leave even with the removal of their ECC, because the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has allowed them to stay on Lobo’s waters.
The ship is apparently paying its anchorage fee to PPA.
According to Balilo, PCG personnel have talked with the ship’s crew, who were merely contracted to conduct dredging operations.
“Nakausap na ho ‘yan no’ng mga tao natin, sila naman ay, kinontrata lang naman din naman sila,” he explained.
“Kung halimbawang rescinded na ang contract, wala na silang gagawin at sabihin no’ng company na umalis na, wala naman silang magagawa kung hindi umalis na,” he added. /jpv
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