2 Vietnamese fishermen found dead on boat off Pangasinan, 5 detained
DAGUPAN CITY — (Updated) Two Vietnamese fishermen were found dead on a vessel which a Navy patrol had boarded at dawn on Saturday for fishing in the waters off Bolinao town in Pangasinan province, a Navy official said on Sunday.
Lt. Jose Covarruvias, public relations officer of the Naval Forces in Northern Luzon, said they detected the boat due to its strong beam of light at 1 a.m., about 32 nautical miles west of Bolinao.
The foreign boat fled, forcing the Navy to give chase. At one point, Covarruvias said, the Vietnamese vessel rammed the Navy boat.
He said the Navy discovered the two Vietnamese crew members dead when they eventually detained the foreign vessel. The Navy detained five other crew members.
Bolinao Mayor Arnold Celeste said five Vietnamese fishermen are being held at the Bolinao police jail.
Citing a report he received from the Bolinao police, Celeste confirmed that two other Vietnamese fishermen were dead and were undergoing autopsy in neighboring Bani town.
The Bolinao police declined to comment when reached by the Inquirer. The Philippine Coast Guard stationed in Sual town also refused to issue a statement.
The arrests were made three days after the Navy detained a Vietnamese fishing vessel manned by 5 Vietnamese fishermen for poaching in the waters of Zambales province on Sept. 20.
The fishermen were charged for violating the Philippine Fisheries Code at the Zambales provincial prosecutor’s office in the capital town of Iba, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Luzon.
But a BFAR official complained that the Navy and the Masinloc town government, which took custody of the foreign fishermen, did not follow protocol.
Nelson Bien, BFAR Central Luzon chief of the regulatory and law enforcement division, said the arrested Vietnamese should have been turned over to the Regional Commission on Illegal Entrants (RCIE) instead of the local government.
“This is not a simple case of illegal fishing. The Vietnamese fishermen illegally entered Philippine jurisdiction,” Bien told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.
Lt. Commander Rodney Cudal, acting public affairs officer of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon, said they would check if protocols were breached.
Masinloc officials have not issued any statement about BFAR’s complaint at press time. /je