Chinese Poachers in Tubbataha Sentenced to Jail

Justice has been served against the 12 Chinese nationals, the first ever convicted poachers for violating the Tubbataha Law

The 12 Chinese poachers on board the vessel Min Ping Yu were charged with the violation of Section 27 (Poaching by Foreigners) of the RA 10067 of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009 after entering and running aground in the Park in April last year.

To serve a lengthy sentence

Judge Ambrosio de Luna of the Puerto Princesa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 51 sentenced boat captain Liu Chang Jie the maximum punishment of 12 years in prison while the 11 other crew members face six to ten years of imprisonment.

The Court also ordered each of the convicted poachers to pay a $100,000 fine, in addition to the  forfeiture of fishing equipment and fishing vessel in favor of the Philippine Government. In case of non-payment of the fine, the convicted poachers were sentenced to suffer subsidiary imprisonment.

The 12 Chinese poachers will serve their sentence in Iwahig Penal Colony of Palawan. However, up till now they are still detained in a residence they are renting pending their petition to the Court of Appeals later last week.

Other charges  await decision

A separate case for violation of Article 212 (Corruption of Public Officials) of the Revised Penal Code filed at the Roxas-Cagayancillo Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) also awaits decision. The charges were filed against the accused for attempting to bribe the Tubbataha marine park rangers.

The accused face other cases for the possession of 2870 dead and frozen pangolins or scaly anteaters (locally known as “balintong”), a crime punishable under RA 10067 by up to 20 years of imprisonment.

Pangolins are categorized as a threatened species by the IUCN and are also protected under RA 9147 or the Wildlife Protection and Conservation Act of the Philippines.

Fine for coral damage remains outstanding

Tubbataha marine park rangers caught the Chinese fishermen after their boat, F/V Min Ping Yu, ran aground on Tubbataha’s North Atoll destroying 3,902 square meters of corals. No compensation for coral damage which sums upto PhP 46.8 million has been received. Neither has the estimated PhP7M cost of salvaging the vessel from the reef in April been paid.