The Chinese nationals caught poaching in Palawan were charged with violation of Republic Act 8550, the Fisheries Code, Section 87 (Poaching) in Philippine waters, and Section 97 or fishing or taking rare, threatened endangered species, and of RA 9147, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection or Act. These are serious charges but the men insist that they were fishing legally in Chinese waters, the Half-moon Shoal. The men refused to have a lawyer from the Public Attorney’s Office and were recommended bail of P30,000 each, P40,000 each for violation of Sections 87 and 97. Although a representative of the Chinese Embassy was present, they did not provide their own legal counsel. The hard evidence points to their gross violation – their vessel and 350 sea turtles in their possession. They are deemed illegal entrants and will not be allowed to leave the country, but most likely will not spend jail time here.
Presently, the Philippines does not want to add to the animosity and hostility with China, but the latter is the one which continues to violate Philippine waters through these illegal activities, more so of poaching as it will deplete the number of the endangered species of turtles. These turtles command high prices not only for their culinary but also medical values.
Our authorities are only doing their job when they arrested the poachers. This should warn China that the Philippines is very serious in protecting its territorial waters and its marine life. The Chinese people does not seem to care about endangered species like the turtles, corals and other sea creatures for as long as they can gain profits from doing so. They seem to have the wrong understanding of what environmental preservation and protection really means.