PCG finds distressed Chinese vessel in Tacloban 'suspicious'

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2023 10:33 AM | Updated as of Feb 09 2023 10:40 AM

MANILA — The Philippine Coast Guard said Thursday it found "suspicious" the claims of a distressed Chinese vessel, which was rescued off Eastern Samar in January and remained docked in Tacloban City. 

According to Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG's deputy chief of coast guard staff for human resource management, MV Kai Da 899 failed to provide relevant documents for its operations.

"That's why for the Philippine Coast Guard it's suspicious that these statutory documents to prove the registry and ownership of the vessel is not present on board the vessel," he told ANC's "Rundown".

The ship's crew members also lacked valid identification.

"We can't allow them to disembark the vessel because they don't have immigration documents to prove that they are Chinese nationals. They don't have passport or any other identification that would attest they are really seafarers," Tarriela said.

The PCG has sought the help of the Bureau of Immigration for proper disposition of the "undocumented" seafarers. It also asked the Bureau of Customs to take custody of the "stateless" vessel.

The PCG secured a copy of a certificate of deletion of ship registration issued by the Chinese government, which meant that the vessel was no longer safe for voyage and failed to meet maritime safety standards.

"We are going to wait the guidance of the Department of Justice through the Bureau of Immigration whether these foreign, undocumented aliens will be deported," Tarriela said.

"If ever the so-called and claiming to be the ship owner's representative can't provide us those documents that would prove that she is the owner's representative, the PCG can seize the vessel," he added.

During an interrogation with the Chinese crew members, the PCG also found the vessel's unusual route "suspicious".

The crew claimed it was heading to Guangdong after departing Fujian, which Tarriela said should only take the ship 21 hours to navigate.

However, the ship took the farthest route by sailing on the east side of Taiwan and ended up in Bashi Channel, a waterway between Taiwan and the Philippines.

"The point is it's very suspicious for the Philippine Coast Guard why it would take you 48 hours to go around Taiwan and then be drifted in the eastern seaboard of the Philippines, where in fact it will only take you 21 hours should you went directly to Guangdong," Tarriela said.

"Until now, the seafarers and the master of the vessel can't explain to us why they ended up in the eastern seaboard," he added.

He also noted the ship should have drifted on the western seaboard of the country due to the northeasterly winds.

The PCG has found dozens of violations of the vessel, including problems on its propulsion system and concerns on its navigational safety.

The ship was rescued in the waters off Suluan Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar on Jan. 26 after it encountered mechanical problem.

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