Chinese Poaching Case Progresses

The F/V Min Long Yu, the Chinese vessel that ran aground in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park on 8 April, arrived in the Puerto Princesa City Port on 20 April. The 48-meter vessel was removed from the reef on 19 April by the MT Limay, a salvage vessel commissioned by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

The Chinese boat still contains around 2000 dead pangolins or scaly anteaters, locally known as balintong. These terrestrial animals are categorized as a threatened species by the CITES and are protected under the Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Protection and Conservation Act of the Philippines.

Pangolin burial

The Tubbataha Management Office, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine Coast Guard will bury the pangolin carcasses, which are now starting to decompose, at the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC) and PCSD–Palawan Agricultural Center in Irawan, Puerto Princesa City. The Tubbataha Management Office is waiting for a court order allowing for the disposal of the carcasses.

Charges and fines

The 12 Chinese nationals, who are now facing criminal charges for violating Section 27 (Poaching) and Section 26 (Possession of Protected Species) of the Republic Act 10067 or the Tubbataha Act of 2009 and Article 212 (Corruption of Public Officials) of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, will also face administrative cases before the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB).

On 19 April, the Executive Committee of the TPAMB determined the administrative fines to be imposed on the Chinese poachers and the owner of the vessel, who remains unknown.  A fine of PhP 1.4 million is computed for violating Section 19 (Unauthorized Entry), Section 21 (Non Payment of Conservation Fees), Section 26g (Destroying, Disturbing Resources) of Republic Act 10067.  The amount does not include the compensation for the coral damage and restoration as it awaits the result of the final assessment.

Coral Damage Measurement

A team of marine scientists and coral experts is leaving for Tubbataha Reefs today to conduct the annual research and monitoring in the reefs and determine the extent of the damage caused by the Chinese vessel, which ran aground on the North Atoll of Tubbataha Reefs on 8 April.

After the initial assessment on 13 April marine experts reported that damaged area measures 2,300 square-meters. The Tubbataha Management Office expects the final measurement by April 30.