Detained ship, Chinese crew still in Zambales

Detained ship, Chinese crew still in Zambales

Presence of foreign aggregate vessel off San Felipe town stirs up fear that river dredging will soon resume

Detained ship, Chinesecrew still in Zambales

FOREIGN VESSEL This aggregate carrier registered in Sierra Leone has been held in the waters off Barangay Sindo in San Felipe, Zambales, since May 15 after its Chinese crew failed to present proper documents to Philippine Coast Guard personnel who inspected the vessel. —photo courtesy of Philippine Coast Guard

SAN FELIPE, ZAMBALES, Philippines — As the livelihood of residents in this coastal town return to normalcy following the recent suspension of dredging operations involving Chinese workers, the presence of another foreign aggregate carrier with Chinese crew has once again raised concerns.

Renan Gilig, a resident of Sitio (subvillage) Laoag in Barangay Maloma, said villagers were worried that the dredging operation that they had been opposing would resume.


READ: Chinese dredging ships alarm Zambales residents


“It’s hard not to think that dredging activities might start again without us knowing it, especially since we’ve seen similar [dredging] ships in the area recently,” Gilig, also the executive secretary of the Laoag Integrated Fisherfolk Association, told the Inquirer on Wednesday.

He said if the arrival of aggregate carrier MV Hyperline 988 was related to the provincial government’s plan to continue the suspended Maloma River restoration project, the national government must step in.

“It is also important to thoroughly complete the full and necessary investigations [into the dredging operation here]. Make it open to the people and ensure the true and correct purpose of the project,” Gilig added.

READ: PCG detains 17 vessels involved in Zambales dredging


MV Hyperline 988, a vessel with a Philippine flag but registered in Sierra Leone, was detained by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the waters off this town on May 15 following the discovery of 21 “basic deficiencies.”

The PCG said 13 of these deficiencies were grounds for detention, like the absence of statutory certificates and garbage and oil record books.


According to Commander Euphraim Jayson Diciano, head of the PCG station in Zambales, the vessel will remain detained pending the submission of its permits and other documents related to its purpose in docking here.

Diciano said the ship owner must report to the PCG within 10 days of being notified about the deficiencies.

“After the PCG station evaluates all circumstances in light of the ship owner’s explanations, it will resolve the matter and send the report to inspectors for further assessment before releasing it,” he said.

Detained ship, Chinesecrew still in Zambales

PROTECTING THEIR LIVELIHOOD Fishermen in the village of Maloma in San Felipe, Zambales, prepare their boats for a fishing trip on March 14 when all Chinese dredgers were forced to leave the municipal waters following the suspension of the river dredging project in the area. —Joanna Rose Aglibot

Diciano noted that the decision regarding the release of MV Hyperline 988 was no longer under the jurisdiction of the PCG. Instead, it would be up to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency to make the decision.

“However, concerns with other agencies pertaining to national security are influencing the PCG’s decision on Hyperline 988’s release,” he said, without elaborating.

In March, at least 17 vessels registered in the Philippines but owned by China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd., carried out dredging activities here.

But these vessels were eventually held at the Manila anchorage area by the Maritime Safety Services Command of the PCG after also finding some deficiencies.

“This is a big insult to us Filipinos. While our fellow fishermen are driven away by the Chinese coast guard from our territory, we’re being lenient to Chinese workers who are here illegally,” said Gilig.

The Inquirer tried to reach Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. and San Felipe Mayor Reinhard Jeresano for comment on the possible resumption of the dredging operations but they were not immediately available.

Senate probe

In 2019, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued Administrative Order No. 13 rationalizing the dredging activities in the heavily silted river channels of Bucao in Botolan, Maloma in San Felipe, and Sto. Tomas traversing the towns of San Marcelino, San Narciso and San Felipe.

Local officials and the DENR have been conducting public consultations for the continuation of dredging operations in some coastal areas of the province.

But affected residents had mounted a series of protests opposing the dredging operation and the presence of Chinese workers in the town, forcing the provincial govern ment to suspend the project

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, chair of the Senate committee on national defense, filed a resolution on May 15 seeking to investigate the dredging activities of Chinese vessels in the province.

According to Estrada, the activities affect the livelihood of residents, cause undue damage to the environment and impact tourism.

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The senator also inspected this town in March and was able to talk to some of the residents who protested against the dredging activities.

TAGS: dredging, Philippine Coast Guard, Zambales

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