Diokno: Gov’t may face charges over foreign ship intrusion in Batangas
MANILA, Philippines — Charges may be filed against government if negligence is proven following the sudden arrival of a Chinese-manned dredging ship in Lobo, Batangas, opposition senatorial candidate Chel Diokno said Wednesday.
“Titingnan po natin kung talagang kinakailangan. Kung natutulog lang sila at di nila ginagawa yung kanilang tungkulin ay itutuloy natin yon,” Diokno said in an interview in Lobo.
The veteran human rights lawyer was in Lobo in his home province of Batangas with volunteer lawyers to provide free legal assistance for residents, particularly for the local government unit and the fishing community affected by the intrusion of the vessel.
The vessel which reportedly entered the town’s waters last March 28 without prior notice or permission from local officials had attempted to dredge in the area. Inquirer earlier said the private company Seagate Engineering and Buildsystems that contracted the dredger was supposed to ship tons of sand from their river to build a runway of the Hong Kong International Airport.
Diokno said the legal mission would also help determine how the vessel was able to enter the area, and what help can now be given to residents.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) earlier suspended the dredging project after it ordered the regional office of the Environmental Management Bureau to suspend the environmental clearance certificate it issued in October 2018 to Seagate. The ship has now left Batangas, but Diokno said residents still fear its return.
The department would also look into possible environmental destruction caused by the 2,990-ton MV Emerald after it dropped anchor 500 meters from the 30-hectare mangrove reserve of Lagadlarin village, DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said.
“Yun ang gusto ko po sanang gawin, na kami na po ang titingin. Kami na rin ang magtatanong sa ating mga ahensiya sa Maynila, lalong lalo na sa DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources], kung ano ba talaga ang status nitong proyekto,” Diokno said.
“Kailangan ay alerto po tayo parati. Kung meron kayong makita agad ay dapat ibalita agad,” he added. /muf
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