MANILA - Nine Chinese nationals arrested for poaching off the Hasa-hasa Shoal (Half Moon Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea pleaded not guilty to charges of violations of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 before a Palawan Court on Wednesday.
Palawan Provincial Prosecutor Allen Ross Rodriguez bared that the accused, Chen Yi Quan, Chen Ze Hao, Shi Xian Xiong, Shi Liang Duong, He Chuan, Huang Ji Xuan, He Sheng Bao, He Yuan Cheng, and Lu Chuan Fang, also finally agreed to be represented by a public lawyer.
They are now represented by Atty. Jocelyn Fumera of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO).
At first, the Chinese nationals, who were arrested last May 6, refused the services of a public lawyer and refused to participate in the proceedings against them.
They have been indicted for violations of section 87 (Poaching in Philippine Waters) and section 97 (Fishing or Taking of Rare, Threatened or Endangered Species) of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.
The nine have yet to post bail for both offenses.
Seized from them upon their arrest were hundreds of live and dead critically endangered sea turtles.