TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: Eighteen Vietnamese held for illegal poaching managed to escape from detention in Santa Ana town using their fishing vessel.
On May 12, the Vietnamese poachers were arrested by joint elements of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). Authorities were able to hold at least three of the 10 fishing boats of the Vietnamese.
Fishery law enforcers said the poachers were spotted and apprehended northwest off Calayan in the Calayan Group of Islands in Cagayan province.
Administrative and criminal complaints were filed against them for violation of Section 91 of Republic Act No. 10654 or Poaching in Philippine Waters that carries a penalty of up to P1.2 million for each violator, according to BFAR.
An initial investigation revealed the Vietnamese fishermen, placed under the custody of the PCG and BFAR in Santa Ana town, escaped at around 11 p.m. on Thursday using one of their fishing vessels that was impounded.
Officials of PCG and BFAR are conducting further investigation on how the Vietnamese fishermen managed to escape and assured that someone has to answer for assisting them to escape.
Meanwhile, 10 Chinese recently paid P9.09 million to settle their penalty for illegally poaching in Philippine waters off Cagayan and Batanes provinces.
On May 25, the PCG and BFAR law enforcers apprehended said Chinese in a hot pursuit operation within the waters off Camiguin Island in the Babuyanes.
They were immediately brought to Santa Ana town and their boat was placed under the custody of the PCG and BFAR where three apprehended Vietnamese fishing vessels with their crew were also anchored on May 12.
BFAR said the Chinese violated Sections 91, 96, and 97 of RA 10654 as amended or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, of which the provision meted out an administrative fine ranging from $600,000 to $1 million or its Philippine currency equivalent.
Citing Section 91 of the fisheries law, BFAR states, “The entry of any foreign fishing vessel in Philippine water shall constitute prima facie presumption that the vessel is engaged in fishing in Philippine waters.”