Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon yesterday said that the operator of Chinese vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 could be slapped with up to $1.2 million in penalty for illegally fishing into Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as evidenced by its presence near Recto Bank.
The Chinese vessel was identified by the Chinese Embassy in Manila as the one involved in the 9 June ramming of Filipino vessel F/B Gem-Vir 1.
Drilon, a former justice secretary, said that while the Chinese can contest the statements of the Filipino fishermen, led by boat captain Junel Insigne, that the incident was intentional but they cannot deny their presence within Manila’s 200 nautical miles EEZ.
He cited Republic Act 10654 or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines as amended, which was enacted into law during his time as Senate President.
“They could contest the facts surrounding the sinking of the Filipino fishing boat by that Chinese vessel. But the fact that that Chinese vessel illegally encroached upon Philippine waters is uncontestable. And for that, the government can penalize them,” Drilon said.
The law states that upon a summary finding of administrative liability, any foreign person, corporation or entity in violation of this section shall be punished by an administrative fine of $600,000 to $1 million, or its equivalent in Philippine currency.
Upon conviction by a court of law, Drilon said the offender shall be punished with a fine of $1.2 million, or its equivalent in Philippine currency, and confiscation of catch, fishing equipment and fishing vessel.
“The Congress provided more teeth to the Fisheries Code precisely to prevent abuses of our Philippine waters, preserve our marine and aquatic resources, and protect the livelihood of our fisher folks. We call on the executive to implement the law,” Drilon said.
At the same time, Drilon opposed a proposal for a joint investigation of the mishap that sank the Filipino fishing boat between Manila and Beijing.
Drilon said that allowing a joint investigation with China could weaken the Philippines’ maritime claims over the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“I am opposed to a joint investigation with China. We should not allow it. The law is on our side. There are clear violations of international treaties and our local laws committed by the Chinese vessel. A joint investigation will only serve their interest, not ours,” Drilon said.
“A joint investigation would derogate our jurisdiction and prejudice our claim in the WPS,” he added.