PH to Chinese poachers: Pay fines
MANILA, Philippines—Despite having served their prison sentence, the nine Chinese nationals convicted of poaching from a disputed shoal near Palawan should pay the fines imposed by court before they can be released, Malacañang said on Thursday.
“They have already served the penalty of subsidiary imprisonment for the offense of poaching and for the possession (of wildlife),” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said during a Palace briefing, quoting state prosecutor General Claro Arellano.
“For the offense pertaining to possession of endangered species, the court imposed a penalty of payment of fines. Upon payment of the fines, they are deemed to have served the penalty fully, and there is no further impediment for them to leave the country,” Coloma said.
The statement came amid a call issued by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying for the unconditional release of the fishermen and their fishing boat.
Earlier in the week, the Palawan Regional Trial Court convicted nine fishermen caught poaching off Hasa-Hasa Shoal (Half Moon Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea.
China had been insisting on the fishermen’s release as it claimed sovereignty over the disputed shoal.
While President Benigno Aquino III acknowledged that China had shown sincerity in the negotiations, the Philippines will continue to pursue arbitration before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, Coloma said.
“Walang pahayag o patakaran ng pagbabago ng ating posisyon hinggil doon sa arbitration na nakahain ngayon sa International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea,” he said.
(There is no announcement or new policy on our position on the arbitration before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.)
Coloma said Aquino’s pronouncement was made after his recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Coloma said both leaders agreed to continue the friendship and close relations of the two countries.
“Sa harap ng mga hamon na umusbong doon sa mga conflicting maritime entitlement claims, patuloy pa rin ‘yung paninindigan ng pamahalaan na kinakailangang magkaroon ng legally binding Code of Conduct na atin namang pinu-pursue sa larangan ng Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” Coloma said.
(In the face of conflicting maritime entitlement claims, the government continues to uphold the necessity of having a legally binding Code of Conduct, which is being pursued through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.)