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Chinese ship to be decontaminated

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Authorities must first decontaminate the Chinese fishing vessel F/B Min Long Yu before an inventory of the dead anteaters inside its cargo hold can be conducted, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said yesterday.                     

Isorena said they had to postpone the inventory of the decomposing anteaters to allow the decontamination of the ship and eliminate the stench.

The cargo hold was expected to be disinfected yesterday afternoon. After the inventory today, the pangolin carcasses will be buried in Irawan, Palawan.

The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) is in charge of removal and disposal of the carcasses. The Coast Guard will examine the contents of the cargo hold for accounting.

Initial inspection of the hold showed about 400 boxes. Three boxes that were inspected showed three or four skinned anteaters packed in each box.

A local court in Palawan has given authorities clearance to remove the anteaters from the ship. PCG Palawan district commander Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista is expected to meet with the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) and the PCSD to discuss how to disinfect the ship and get rid of the foul smell.

The 12 Chinese crewmen of the boat have been charged with poaching and illegal entry. 

Their 48-meter boat was removed from Tubbataha last Friday, 11 days after it got stuck in the reef.

The boat ran aground just days after the last chunk of the US minesweeper USS Guardian, which hit the protected UNESCO heritage site in January, was removed.

The Philippine government is seeking compensation from the US for the damage to the reef.

Sen. Francis Escudero said the US government should pay the P58 million penalty.

Escudero also called on the government to reject US suggestions to settle its obligations in kind.

“I insist that the US government pay up in cash. the suggestion that they would settle their obligations through donations or aid loans are not acceptable. They should follow what the Philippine law requires for the incident,” he said.

Escudero said he found the US proposal unacceptable “even if the return from the offer to pay in kind would be bigger than the actual fine.”

Any move to accept US aid is tantamount to accepting that the USS Guardian should not be held accountable for damaging Tubbataha Reef, Escudero said as he insisted that the US government should be required to follow Philippine laws to the letter. 

“It would not help in protecting our resources if the government agrees to waive the fine in favor of other considerations being offered by the US government,” he said.

Escudero said if elected, he would seek to increase penalties for damage to the country’s protected resources in the next Congress. – Christina Mendez

B MIN LONG YU

CHRISTINA MENDEZ

COAST GUARD

COMMODORE ENRICO EFREN EVANGELISTA

FRANCIS ESCUDERO

GOVERNMENT

PALAWAN

PALAWAN COUNCIL

PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD

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