PCG detains vessel with 7 Chinese crew

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star
PCG detains vessel with 7 Chinese crew
The Philippine Coast Guard has detained the MT Hyperline 988 following a report that the foreign vessel was hoisting the Philippine flag in waters off San Felipe, Zambales last May 15. A PCG inspection team (inset) said the seven Chinese crew men, including the ship master, failed to present original and printed versions of relevant documents, a crew list, passports and seaman’s books.
PCG photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is holding a tanker off Zambales after its seven Chinese crewmembers – who initially did not respond to identification calls – failed to present required documents.

The PCG detained the M/T Hyperline 988, which it said was “registered under the flag of Sierra Leone and anchored in the vicinity waters off San Felipe, Zambales.”

The PCG said it received a report that the vessel was flying the Philippine flag last May 15.

The vessel did not respond to communication from the PCG as “its automatic identification system (AIS) was turned off.” Its crew also did not respond to communication through handheld radio from the PCG.

Upon inspection of the vessel, authorities said they found seven Chinese nationals on board, including the ship captain, who all “failed to present original and printed versions of relevant documents, including the crew list, passports and seaman’s books.”

Sailing from their last port of call in Hong Kong on May 11, the vessel’s crew claimed they decided to dock off San Felipe in Zambales last May 15 “for a more affordable option.”

They claimed they could not afford the “high anchorage fees” at the Manila Anchorage Area, which was supposedly their next destination, the PCG said.

San Felipe, Zambales does not host any port hence it does not charge docking fees, the PCG added.

PCG’s canine unit did not detect any illegal drugs in the tanker.

By holding the tanker, the PCG said it found “21 deficiencies” which it did not identify.

Atin Ito

Meanwhile, the military yesterday commended the organizers and participants of the civilian mission to deliver food and fuel to fishermen in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, saying the success of the mission demonstrated Filipinos’ solidarity in asserting the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.

“We commend this initiative for its significant role in asserting the Philippine’s presence and rights in the West Philippine Sea,” Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said, referring to Atin Ito coalition’s sail for “peace and solidarity” to Panatag Shoal, which ended on Thursday.

The coalition’s flotilla of some 100 fishing boats and other smaller vessels left Zambales for Panatag Shoal last Wednesday.

“Peaceful endeavors like this are crucial for demonstrating our national solidarity and upholding our sovereign rights, in accordance with international law,” Trinidad said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros also congratulated the Atin Ito coalition for the success of its mission.

“Salute to Atin Ito for its successful mission to the West Philippine Sea. This is testament to our capability to unite in fighting for our sovereignty,” Hontiveros said.

“Unlike China which seeks only to militarize the seas, I join the call to civilianize the West Philippine Sea, to keep arms and conflict away from our territories,” Hontiveros said.

“China must stop her violence. It should stop claiming what is not hers,” she added.

“The civilian mission sends a strong message to China: we, the Filipino people, will never be cowed into submission,” she said.

An advance party left Subic Fishport a day ahead of the main group, enabling it to slip past a Chinese blockade around Panatag, also called Bajo de Masinloc. On news that the advance party aboard MV Franz Gavin was able to hand over its cargo of food and fuel to fishermen in Panatag Shoal, the other boats cut short their trip and made their own distribution of goods to fishermen on their way back.

Organizers of the civilian mission expressed their “heartfelt gratitude” to the PCG and to the “courageous captain and crew” of PCG’s BRP Bagacay and PCG substations in Subic, Botolan, Masinloc and Iba.

The coalition also thanked the Philippine Navy, the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea, the AFP Northern Luzon Command, the Matalvis port and its staff, captains and crews of civilian boats, MARINA, the local government of Subic, Sagip Kapamilya Foundation, as well as donors and supporters.

“We also want to thank the media, both foreign and local, for telling the story of this mission and spreading it to different audiences. Their coverage has been vital in raising awareness and garnering support for our cause,” Atin Ito said. — Michael Punongbayan, Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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