Navy Admits "Cannot Guard Philippine Maritime Domain" Chinese poachers arrived 'undetected'

A Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground on Monday in Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is pictured in Palawan Province, west of Manila April 10, 2013 in this picture provided by Tubbataha Management Office. REUTERS/ Tubbataha Management Office Handout (PHILIPPINES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

Dismal resources hound PH's ability to guard territorial waters

Chinese poachers arrived 'undetected'.

Lack of resources takes its toll on Philippine maritime protection, officials admitted, after a Chinese vessel got stuck on Tubbataha Reef late Monday.

Both the rangers of the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) and maritime law enforcement agencies were unable to detect the Chinese vessel before it ran aground the protected marine park.

The TMO radar was turned off when the fishing vessel hit Tubbataha barely a mile away from the rangers' station, its head Angelique Songco said.

"We switch on our radar every three hours... Sometimes it's between those three hours that our rangers are blind," state-run Philippine News Agency quoted Songco as saying.

"We do not have the resources to keep the radar equipment on 24/7," Songco said further.

The Philippine Navy for its, part admitted that it "cannot guard every nook and cranny of our maritime domain."

Ships do not stay on guard in one area all the time, said Col. Edgard Arevalo, Navy spokesman for West Philippine Sea issues.

"Our borders are porous, and our coastline vast," he said, adding that "we have only a number of ships and aircraft to patrol our territorial waters."

Reuters/Reuters - A Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground in Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on Monday is pictured in Palawan Province, west of Manila April 10, 2013 in this picture provided by Naval Forces West. REUTERS/ Naval Forces West Handout (PHILIPPINES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT POLITICS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

The latest grounding on Tubbataha Reef comes barely two weeks after the wreckage of a U.S. warship that hit the protected marine park had been removed.

The Philippines is asking the U.S. to pay P58 million ($1.4 million) in compensation for at least 2,345 square meters of the reef damaged by its minesweeper USS Guardian.

The incident also happened while the Philippines and China are embroiled in a dispute over territories in the West Philippine Sea.

The unnamed 48-meter Chinese vessel is still stuck in Tubbataha as of press time, but the 12 suspected poachers aboard it have been escorted to Puerto Princesa where they will face charges.

The fishing boat is the seventh Chinese fishing vessel caught inside the Tubbataha Reef since 2002, the TMO said in its website.

No marine life was found in the vessel, but Songco had said the entry of foreign fishing vessels is "prima facie evidence they are engaged in fishing".

The Tubbataha Reef is no-take area in the middle of the Sulu Sea, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In addition to poaching, unauthorized entry, and damage to the reefs, corruption of public officials will also be filed against the Chinese nationals, TMO said.

This, as it noted how rangers reported that the foreign fishermen attempted to bribe them with $2,400.

Yahoo News

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