PCG, BFAR move to avoid another Balintang shooting
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have agreed to only fire their weapons when fired upon to avoid the shooting incident near the Balintang channel last year that killed an aleged Taiwanese poacher.

PCG commandant Vice Admiral Rodolfo Isorena yesterday said that the rule to only fire weapons when fired upon was one of the changes incorporated in the renewed PCG and BFAR memorandum of agreement. The agencies renewed their agreement last June 26.

“Basically no use of force or no use of firearm… Our people could only use firearms if fired upon but if the other party would not use any firearm, just like what happened before, we would not use firearms,” Isorena explained.

The PCG chief also said that if the other vessel would not initiate the firing, the PCG would pursue and capture the violators and call their attention by using other means such as the siren, horn or the public address system, “so that we won’t experience what happened before.”

In the previous agreement between the PCG and BFAR, the commanding officer or the captain of the ship had the discretion on how to handle a situation, Isorena said.

“We just want to make it clear with our personnel that this is the new set of guidelines that would be followed,” he said.

“We want to avoid a similar incident,” he added.

On May 9, 2013 the monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) 3001 vessel, operated by PCG and BFAR personnel, was patrolling when it spotted Taiwanese fishing vessel Guang Da Xing no. 28 poaching near Balintang channel in Batanes province.

For about an hour and a half, the PCG personnel onboard MCS 3001 used the siren and public address system and fired warning shots to order the Taiwanese fishing boat to stop, but the vessel continued fleeing from the area.

One PCG personnel then fired a shot at the engine with the intention to disable the boat. It was reportedly at this juncture when Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng was hit in the neck that eventually caused his death.

The National Bureau of Investigation filed homicide charges against eight PCG personnel and obstruction of justice charges against four PCG personnel. The cases are now pending before the courts in Isabela and Batanes.

BALINTANG BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES GUANG DA XING HUNG SHIH ISABELA AND BATANES ISORENA NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION ON MAY PCG PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD
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