- Ten Chinese poachers were arrested by PCG off the waters of Babuyan group of Islands in Cagayan
- The poachers were on board a ship marked “Subic” that flew a Philippine flag
- Fragments of suspected endangered black corals were found aboard the Chinese vessel
Ten Chinese poachers were arrested by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) after a 2-hour long boat chase in the waters off Camiguin in Babuyan Islands in Cagayan province Wednesday night, May 25.
PCG Lieutenant Jeffrey Collado, commander of the PCG’s monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) vessel 3010, said they spotted three vessels at around 8 p.m.
“At first glance, there was nothing irregular with the ships, but when we tried to communicate with them through radio, they did not answer. Two of the vessels turned off their lights and hurriedly left. We no longer saw which direction they went,” he said.
Collado said the remaining Chinese ship tried to escape after ramming MCS 3010 that left a dent on its starboard or right side.
MCS 3010 radioed and sought assistance from MCS 3007 led by PCG Captain Allen Toribio.
The two PCG ships chased the Chinese vessel marked “Subic” and flying a Philippine flag. The intruders’ ship was forced to stop when the two MCS vessels “sandwiched” it.
A team boarded the vessel and ordered the skipper to stop. It was only when they successfully boarded the vessel that the PCG discovered the 10 Chinese on board.
“At first, we thought it was a local vessel because it was marked with Subic and was flying a Philippine flag but it was found to be manned by Chinese crew. They pretended that they were aboard a locally registered vessel to avoid suspicion,” GMA News Online quoted Capt. Toribio as saying.
Toribio said they found fragments of what looked like black corals on board the Chinese ship.
“If it would be confirmed that there were black corals on board, additional charges might be filed against them because black corals are considered endangered species. This would be a violation of the Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora,” he said.
The poachers were taken to Port Irene in Cagayan for further investigation.