News / Asia

Philippines Files Charges Against Chinese Ship Stuck on Reef

A Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground in Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on Monday is pictured in Palawan Province, west of Manila, April 10, 2013.
A Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground in Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on Monday is pictured in Palawan Province, west of Manila, April 10, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Simone Orendain
— Philippine officials say 12 fishermen who were onboard a suspected Chinese ship are facing the first of several charges after their vessel got stuck on a major protected reef in the southwestern Philippines. 

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Management Office says the fishing vessel ran aground on an atoll close to the park rangers’ barracks.

Staff at the park took photographs of the suspected Chinese ship, which they say was equipped with fishing gear, but had no fish nor marine life on board.

Tubbataha Management spokeswoman Glenda Simon says this was enough to file the first charge of poaching, according to Philippine law.

“The mere presence of a fishing vessel inside a protected area, particularly Tubbataha, is prima facie evidence of fishing, even if they’re not caught fishing in the park,” she said.

Simon said further charges include unauthorized entry, damage to the reef and a corruption charge for an alleged bribe of $2,400 the fishermen are reported to have offered to park rangers to be set free.

The massive 97,000 hectare Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea is a UNESCO World Heritage site, prized for its marine animal biodiversity. The reefs are popular with recreational divers. The region is far from reefs and islands in the South China Sea that are contested by China.

  • A suspected Chinese fishing vessel that got stuck on a protected reef in the Philippines, April 8, 2013. (Philippines Navy)
  • Fishing equipment aboard a suspected Chinese vessel that got stuck on a protected reef in the Philippines, April 8, 2013. (Tubbataha Management Office)
  • Fishermen aboard a suspected Chinese vessel that got stuck on a protected reef in the Philippines, April 8, 2013. (Tubbataha Management Office)
  • A suspected Chinese fishing vessel that got stuck on a protected reef in the Philippines, April 8, 2013. (Philippines Navy)

Simon said the Philippine Coast Guard is overseeing operations to remove the 48-meter vessel.  But a western command military spokesman, Major Oliver Bañaria, confirms that the boat is not being moved just yet because of rough seas.

Bañaria said officials are still trying to verify whether the fishermen are Chinese nationals.  He said they spoke Chinese to a Chinese interpreter provided by the military.  Also, Bañaria said three Chinese embassy officials visited the 12 fisherman, Wednesday morning.

“But of course, they were not allowed to talk to them, but [were] able to see them [from] afar because the position wherein the fishermen can be seen,” he added.

Philippines authorities are expected to allow Chinese diplomats to meet with the 12 when they have been charged.

On Wednesday, more than a dozen protesters showed up at the Chinese consular office in Manila with signs calling on China to “leave Tubbataha.”  Calls to the Chinese embassy spokesman were not answered.

Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge
x
Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
The incident comes nearly a year after Philippine and Chinese vessels faced off at a contested shoal near the northern Philippines in the South China Sea.

This is the second grounding incident on the reef in recent months. In January, the USS Guardian, a U.S. Navy minesweeper got stuck for 73 days. To prevent further damage to the reef, authorities dismantled the ship and used a crane to remove the pieces. The last pieces were hauled away 10 days ago.

The Philippine government is fining the U.S. about $1.5 million for the incident, which it says damaged 2,345 square meters of coral.

Tubbataha spokeswoman Glenda Simon said her office anticipates it will take less time to remove the fishing vessel, which is smaller than what used to be the 62-meter U.S.S. Guardian.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: jan from: philippines
April 16, 2013 8:31 AM
is this the Chinese fishermen caught poaching phililippine waters taught to be responsible fishermen fishing in the west Philippine sea as educated by Chinese authorities. it is crystal clear violation of our maritime waters. if Chinese fishermen in scarborough shoal caught fishing with endangered species gone scot-free by chines authorities this time they have to pay for what wrong they have committed inside our territorial waters.


by: Hovhannes from: Montevideo
April 10, 2013 5:10 PM
It's time for China to stop bullying its neighbors if it wants to become a respectable member of the international community.


by: James from: San Francisco
April 10, 2013 3:04 PM
These illegal poachers must be put to jail. Philippines government should take out the ship immediately in order to minimize the damage of the reefs. And let the Chinese pay for all the expenses together with the damages they made in their illegal activities.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid