MANILA, Philippines - The 12 Chinese fishermen convicted of poaching at the Tubbataha Reef are in the custody of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and will be turned over to the Palawan regional trial court.
BI spokesperson Elaine Tan said yesterday that after the Chinese fishermen posted bail for poaching, the BI took custody of them because they are also facing a deportation case for violating immigration regulations.
The Palawan court, which sentenced the Chinese poachers to five to 12 years in prison, is expected to order their transfer to a regular jail.
The 12 Chinese fishermen were identified as Liu Wen Jie, Che Li Yong, Fan Len Tie, Xuan Ven Fe, Wang Yu Zhen, Lizhong Sheng, Lizhiming, Liu Cheng Tie, Tung Zhue We, Tang Hai Liny, Wen Hong Min and Qi Vixn.
Tubbataha rangers arrested the 12 Chinese onboard F/V Min Long Yu after their vessel ran aground at Tubbataha Reef’s North Atoll on April 8, 2013.
The 12 Chinese are also facing a separate case of illegal possession of wildlife as authorities recovered 2,870 dead and frozen pangolins on their boat.
Pangolins are endangered animals, and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) prohibits trade in Asian pangolin species. If the carcasses are determined to be from the Philippines, the 12 Chinese fishermen can be punished under the Philippine Wildlife Act. – With Rhodina Villanueva