CEBU CITY, Philippines—The Philippine Coast Guard has cleared a Chinese cargo ship anchored off a diving resort in nothern Cebu for more than a month of any criminal or other liability except for a fine for not notifying Philippine maritime authorities of their arrival in the country.
Cmdr. Weniel Azcuna, operations officer of PCG in Central Visayas, told the Inquirer that the MV Ming Yuan, a Hong Kong-registered bulk carrier, had complied with all safety requirements. But he added before the ship is allowed to sail to its original destination, the owner of the vessel would have to pay the penalty for failing to file a notice of arrival.
Azcuna said any foreign vessel entering the country is required to inform the Bureau of Quarantine, Bureau of Immigration and Bureau of Customs of its arrival.
He said, however, that he did not know how much the penalty was because it was the Bureau of Immigration that made the computation.
Based on the vessel’s arrival report given by skipper, Azcuna said the bulk carrier arrived in the Philippines on May 19 from Taipei, Taiwan. It was heading to Isabel town in Leyte to pick up some cargo but was advised the cargo was not yet ready.
The crew decided to drop anchor in the waters between Malapascua and Carnasa islands off the northernmost tip of Cebu. Its long presence raised suspicion among residents that the vessel might siphon off the islands’ prized white sand.
Barangay officials informed Bantay Dagat (Sea Watch) and the police about the Chinese vessel. The police, in turn, informed the Coast Guard, which inspected the bulk carrier on Friday along with representatives from the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Quarantine and the Bureau of Immigration.
The vessel is now anchored 1.3 nautical miles northwest of Tapilo Point in the municipality of Daanbantayan in northern Cebu, Azcuna said.
He said the authorities advised the crew to move the vessel closer to Tapilon Point because it “is the best sheltering area.”
He said representatives from the Chinese Embassy visited his office on Saturday to ask about the progress of their report as they were concerned about the safety of the 24 Chinese crewmen aboard.
In the meantime, Rex Novabos, chief of Barangay Logon on Malapascua, said the presence of the vessel did not affect the any of the protected areas on or around the island.
He said the vessel was far from the three marine protected areas on Gapo Islet, Lapus-lapus Island and Monad Shoal.
The Bantay Dagat (Sea Watch) team on Malapascua has been monitoring the vessel, he added.