By Charissa M. Luci
“Disturbed” by the discovery of more than 20,000 pounds of meat from the endangered pangolin in the Chinese vessel that ran aground along the northern part of the Tubbataha Reef, party-list lawmakers are urging the Chinese government to break its silence on the supposed violation committed by its nationals against the country’s environmental and maritime laws.
Youth Against Corruption and Poverty (YACAP) party-list Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez and Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan (Agham) Rep. Angelo Palmones are counting on the Chinese government to take action against its fishermen who were poaching on the country’s territorial waters.
“We are deeply disturbed by their continued silence in condemning and stopping some of their fishermen from practicing illegal fishing,” Lopez said.
Palmones asked the government to remain firm in calling on the attention of China to respect the country’s sovereignty.
“Let us intensify our call for the Chinese government to strictly follow the international standards by prohibiting their fishermen from poaching on our territorial waters and catching endangered species,” he said.
Lopez and Palmones both agreed that stiffer penalties should be slapped against illegal poachers, as it also called on the Aquino government to ensure the strict implementation of the environmental laws.
“I think active patrolling of our shores not only by our law enforcement forces but by our citizenry as ell as strict implementation of our maritime laws is necessary. Our citizenry should be more vigilant as they have more to lose in case of desecration of our marine resources,” Lopez said.
“We need stiffer penalties against poachers of endangered species and an honest-to-goodness implementation of our environmental laws,” Palmones added.
Carrying 400 crates of frozen pangolins, also known as the scaly anteater, the 48-meter long Chinese vessel, Ming Long struck a section of the Tubbataha National Marine Park last April 8.The incident happened 10 days after the removal of the ill-fated USS Guardian from the site.