PH lets go of 18 Chinese fishing boats that sought refuge in Basilan due to Ruby
MANILA, Philippines—Philippine authorities allowed, on Tuesday, the 18 Chinese fishing boats, which had sought refuge in Basilan waters Monday to leave after seeing no irregularity in their entry.
Capt. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, commander of the Naval Task Force-61, said the vessels were manned by about 250 crew members who were thoroughly interviewed by representatives from the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources who also boarded the vessels for inspection.
Each vessel was manned by 14 to 16 crew members.
“The Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources concluded that all Chinese vessels merely took shelter due to Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit),” Bacordo said.
“Further, (it was) disclosed that their claim for force majeure (chance occurrence) is justifiable based on their pre-plotted course on their navigational charts,” he added.
Bacordo said the vessels were scheduled to leave Basilan at around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
He said the Chinese vessels and their crew were given a note verbale from the Department of Foreign Affairs, clearing them of their passage within the country’s waters.
“It is just that they left (Indonesia) early, and they invoked force majeure because of the Typhoon Ruby,” he said.
Based on the pre-plotted course of the Chinese fleet, from Indonesia, it was to enter the Philippine waters, passing through Basilan Strait, Sulu Sea and Balabac strait before exiting through the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea on their way to China.
Bacordo said the Navy was informed of the presence of the Chinese vessels on Langhil Island, where they anchored apparently due to bad weather. The Navy immediately sent patrol gunboats to check.