It is easy for China to ask the Philippine government to release Chinese fishermen, poachers who illegally gathered endangered sea turtles in Hasa-Hasa Shoal which is a part of Philippine coastal territory. They are quick to the rescue of their Chinese nationals who had obviously violated existing laws and regulations in poaching of endangered marine species. The arrest of the poachers was made within Philippine territory and based on the 1995 Committee on Illegal Entrants created under Executive Order 236 to safeguard our country’s territorial integrity and its sovereign right to explore and exploit, develop and manage its marine resources in accordance with existing laws.
The Philippines cannot release the 11 fishermen because Philippine maritime police were enforcing Philippine laws during the arrest. China is accusing our country of doing a “pre-meditated act” allegedly to stir tension in the West Philippine Sea. How quick of China to make that statement when countries laying claim to the disputed islands are crying foul over Chinese incursions they continue to conduct in the disputed islands.
The illegal poaching of the Chinese nationals confirms the fact that China is breaking so many laws of the sea, and in this case, the activity was only 60 miles off Palawan. These fishermen will be tried according to the Illegal Entrants law as it is clear as day they were virtually robbing Philippine Sea territory of marine resources. These men will undergo due process and China should not worry much. These men are guilty but China does not seem eager to accept that.
Mrs. Necitas Caballes
Puerto Princesa, Palawan LGU Member