The Chinese Embassy in Manila insisted on Wednesday that the dredging ship the Philippine authorities seized recently was not from China.
“Initial investigation on the identity of MV Zhonhai 68 by relevant Chinese authorities has shown that the ship is not registered in China and not a Chinese ship,” the embassy said, days after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) identified the ship as a “Chinese dredger type vessel.”
The embassy added there was no Chinese national boarded on the dredging ship when it was apprehended.
“Information from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) shows the ship with an IMO number of 8692665, is under the flag of Sierra Leone,” the embassy said.
“The embassy hopes that any responsible remarks and reports should be based on facts, rather than speculation and misinformation. China is ready to render further assistance to the Philippine authorities concerned in its investigation, should there be such a need,” it added.
Based on the incident report, PCG Task Force Aduana and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) caught the ship due to its illegal presence in waters off Orion Point on January 27.
PCG said the ship’s two Cambodian crew members failed to present proper documents when apprehended.
Chinese embassy says seized dredging ship, not from China
BOC, the agency’s office in Aparri, Cagayan gave the vessel departure clearance more than a year ago.
“Hence, its presence at said vicinity is illegal and unauthorized. The BOC is set to issue a corresponding warrant of seizure and detention against [the] subject vessel,” the PCG said.
Earlier, fishers’ group Pamalakaya on Sunday urged the government to punish to the “fullest extent of the law” the owners of the alleged Chinese dredging ship.
“Local fishers have been lamenting the decrease in fish catch due to rampant dredging operations in the provinces of Zambales and Bataan,” Pamalakaya vice-chairperson for Luzon Bobby Roldan said.
“This operation harms the marine life through excavation of seabed and movement of solid particles, noise pollution, and blurring of water that drive away the fish,” he added.