AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
(From Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Byline: Dominique Monera-Tabora
EMOTIONALLY draining and frustrating" was how lawyer Adelina Benavente-Villena of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) described the ordeal her group went through in its efforts to prosecute 122 Chinese poachers now jailed in Palawan.
From January to May, the Philippine Navy caught and filed charges of poaching and illegal fishing against 136 Chinese nationals fishing in Palawan waters. Fourteen of them are minors who have been released, and the provincial prosecutor has dismissed the charges against the 122 remaining despite strong evidence in favor of the government.
The PCSD has filed a motion for reconsideration.
Recent reports quoted Foreign Secretary Blas Ople as saying that the Philippines would release the 122 Chinese in time for the visit of Chinese leader Li Peng, chair of the National People's Congress of China, in Manila next month.
Six cases of poaching have already been filed before the regional trial court in Puerto Princesa City.
Under Sec. 87 of Republic Act No. 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, the entry of a foreign fishing vessel in Philippine waters "shall constitute evidence that the vessel is engaged in fishing in Philippine waters." Violators must pay a fine of $100,000 and their catch, fishing equipment and vessel confiscated.
Fisheries Administrative Order No. 200 defines the circumstances under which foreign fishing vessels can be apprehended for poaching. It states that the Department of Agriculture, upon the recommendation of the director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, can impose an additional administrative fine of $50,000 to $200,000 on violators.
Despite the apprehension of 45 foreign vessels in Palawan waters by joint forces of the Philippine Navy, the Philippine National Police Maritime Group and the Coast Guard, the …