“Are we still in control?” Hontiveros calls for probe on Chinese Vessels In PH waters

This was the question asked by Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday on the presence of Chinese vessels in Philippine territories, including reports of a 99-meter long, 17-meter wide Chinese dredging vessel that docked along the shores of Lobo, Batangas which plans to dredge 2 million cubic meters of Lobo River sand to be used for the Hong Kong International Airport Three Runway System Project.

"Anong klaseng pamamahala ito? Baku-bako ang ating mga kalsada, at sira-sira ang mga tulay, tapos ang bansang Tsina, ilegal na hinahakot ang ating buhangin para sa pagpapagawa ng runway ng Hongkong airport?" Hontiveros said.

"Like a vampire"

"Sa dredging na yan, parang bampira ang Tsina, and the government doesn't want to drive a stake through its heart," Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros called on the government to arrest the crew of the Chinese dredging vessel in Batangas if proven that they don't have proper permits and clearances from the authorities.

"I call on our authorities to investigate this matter and ascertain for sure if the crew of the Chinese dredging vessel has all the necessary documents, permits and clearances from our government. They must be immediately arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law if proven that they are in the area without any legal authority," Hontiveros said.

"IUU fishing"

Meanwhile, the Philippine military reported that 600 Chinese fishing vessels were monitored to be circling Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea since January this year. Hontiveros said that these fall under the category of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) which breaks fisheries laws or occurs outside the reach of fisheries laws and regulation.

"Is the Duterte administration still in full control of our waters and territories, or have they surrendered them already to China? The illegal, unreported and unregulated presence of numerous Chinese vessels in our territories is extremely bothering. China is not only a state sponsor to illegal fishing, it is also openly disregarding our sovereignty and marine jurisdiction. It is a deep and dangerous incursion into our territories," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said that she will file a resolution urging the Senate to investigate the presence of illegal Chinese vessels in the country. She said the public deserves to know what steps the government has taken to seek the assistance of the international community in responding to China's IUU fishing. She said that she also wants to assess the overall foreign and security policy direction of the government in dealing with the continuing Chinese incursions into Philippine waters.

Source: Senate of the Philippines