By Leonard Postrado
The absence of a Chinese interpreter has stalled the trial of a poaching case that the Philippine government filed against 12 crew members of a Chinese fishing vessel, which ran aground at the Tubbataha marine park in April 2013.
Judge Ambrosio de Luna of the Puerto Princesa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 51 has deferred the hearing of the crew of the Chinese fishing vessel, Min Long Yu, after a Chinese interpreter failed to appear during Wednesday’s hearing.
Court stenographer Noel Lorenzo said in an interview that it was the turn of the prosecution to present their witnesses and documentary evidence in court to prove that the 12 accused had committed a crime when they allegedly went in the country’s protected heritage site.
But with the absence of an interpreter, Judge de Luna has decided to defer the trial another date yet to be set.
On April 2013, the steel-hulled, Chinese fishing vessel with bow number 63168 ran aground the Tubbataha reef, 1.1 nautical miles east of the ranger station, just a week after the USS Guardian was finally removed from the area, where it had been stuck.
No fish or other marine life were found on the 48-meter vessel, which remains stuck at the North Atoll of the World Heritage Site, Simon said. The fishermen, however, admitted they were on a fishing expedition when their vessel ran aground.
The complaint against the fishermen for violating Section 27 (poaching by foreigners) of the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 10067, or the Tubbataha Act, was filed by the Tubbatah Management Office through the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
A medical certificate issued to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development identified the 12 as Che Li Yong, 51; Fan Lenl Tie; Xuan Ven Fe, 33; Wang Yu Zhen; Lizhong Sheng, 47; Lizhiming, 42; Liu Cheng Tie, 44; Liu Wen Jie, 27; Tung Zhue We; Tang Hai Liny, 42; Wen Hong Min; and Qi Vixn, 39.
This is not the first case wherein a trial was postponed because of the absence of an interpreter.
Recently, Judge de Luna has deferred the hearing of another poaching case of a Chinese fishermen caught off Half Moon Shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands last May.