By D.J. Yap
MANILA, Philippines—A party-list lawmaker is seeking a congressional probe into what he claims to be “unabated poaching activities” by Chinese fishermen in connivance with Filipinos in waters off Palawan.
Kabataan Representative Terry Ridon has filed a House resolution calling for a probe into reports that Chinese poachers were using local contacts to enter Philippine waters, such as the protected Tubbataha Reefs, to collect marine species.
“Local Filipino fishermen who are in connivance with Chinese poachers usually bring rare maritime species to an agreed location in Hasa-Hasa Shoal, where the marine species will then be hauled to the Chinese fishing vessel,” Ridon said.
Poaching activities in Hasa-Hasa Shoal have been reported many times by the authorities, he noted.
“The syndicate composed of Filipino and Chinese poachers may be exploiting the current maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea as legal cover for their illegal activities,” Ridon said.
On May 6, a one-ton Chinese fishing vessel carrying 120 live and 234 dead sea turtles was seized by the Philippine Maritime Police in the Hasa-Hasa Shoal.
Ridon said the Philippine National Police Maritime Group caught 11 Chinese nationals, along with five Filipino fishermen, who were riding a separate boat laden with about 70 live sea turtles.
He said the Chinese and Filipino fishermen violated Republic Act 9147, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, particularly its provisions on collecting and killing wildlife species and poaching.
“The issue should be treated not as a diplomatic issue but rather a grave case of illegal poaching,” he said.
“The Chinese government cannot hide the fact that their nationals were caught conducting illegal activities in the Philippine waters,” Ridon said.