MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration has ordered the deportation of the 12 Chinese fishermen who were aboard the fishing vessel that ran aground in Tubbataha reef on April 8, according to a statement by the Tubbataha park management.
Tubbataha park superintendent Angelique Songco said the order raises concerns that the charges against the alleged poachers would eventually be dropped.
Songco said they learned about the BI order on Thursday, June 13. The warrant of deportation prepared by BI Commissioner Ricardo A. David Jr. was received by BI acting Intelligence Chief Maria Antonette Bucasas-Mangrobang on June 10, directing her to “immediately arrest and take custody” of the Chinese fishermen, according to Songco.
Songco disclosed that David sent a letter to Judge Ambrosio de Luna of Branch 51, informing him that in the event the Chinese fishermen will be ordered released on bail, the BI will be taking legal custody of them.
Songco said she was assured by the court that the Chinese nationals will not be released without a court order. “I was also assured that our side as complainant will be sought prior to such an issuance,” Songco said.
Songco said she fears the fishermen will apply for bail soon and that the case against them “could slip through our hands like the ones before it.”
“What is worse, we could be left holding the statement of account of this case with no one to collect payment from,” she added.
The Chinese vessel destroyed 3,902 square meters of corals, 66% larger than the final damage measurement caused by the USS Guardian. The proposed fine against the Chinese fishermen is estimated at P95 million.
READ: Chinese boat caused bigger damage in Tubbataha
Songco said her fear comes from their “unsuccessful efforts to make Chinese poachers pay for their crimes in Tubbataha,” a world heritage site.
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The Chinese fishermen were charged for “entering the country without inspection and admission in violation of Section 37(a)(1), (2) and (9) in relation to Section 45 (d) of the Philippine Immigration Act (PIA) of 1940” and for being “undocumented and undesirable under Section 52 of the PIA, in relation to Section 69 of Act 2711.”
The 12 fishermen charged were:
1. Liu Chang Jie,
2. Fang Ren Yi,
3. Qi Jian,
4. Li Zhi Ming
5. Li Zhong Sheng
6. Wang Yu Zhen
7. Lui Wen Jie
8. Yuan Liang Te
9. Chang Shou Yun
10. Die Li Yong
11. Wen Jong Min
12. Tang Hai Ling
On April 8, the vessel ran aground at 1.1 nautical mile (NM) east of the Ranger Station of the Tubbataha Reef. The incident occurred more than a week after salvage teams removed from Tubbataha the USS Guardian, which was stuck in the area for more than 10 weeks. – Rappler.com
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