Chinese dredging vessel illegally moored off Bataan, 2 crew nabbed

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    TWO Cambodian crew members of a Chinese dredging vessel moored some seven nautical miles off Orion Point in Bataan were arrested on Wednesday by joint personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Customs, the PCG reported yesterday.

    PCG spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said the two crew members are under the custody of the Bureau of Customs for further investigation.

    Balilo said the joint operatives boarded the vessel at around 11 a.m. and “discovered its automatic identification system (AIS) transponder was turned off and its two Cambodian crewmembers aboard failed to present proper documents.”

    Balilo said the vessel’s presence in the area as “illegal and unauthorized.”

    The PCG said the vessel was granted departure clearance by the BOC office in Aparri, Cagayan more than a year ago.

    “Hence, its presence at said vicinity is illegal and unauthorized. The BOC is set to issue corresponding warrant of seizure and detention against subject vessel,” the PCG said.

    Balilo said the vessel has been in the area for over a month.

    “We are still investigating where it stayed for more than a year (since it issued departure clearance),” he said.

    “It was stationary and its AIS is dead, that’s why we are checking what its purpose is. It may be engaged in illegal activities because its AIS, its transponder, is turned off. So we will check,” said Balilo.

    “We are investigation what it is doing here and (why) its AIS is dead. It has no load but we still don’t know what its purpose is, who told them to stay there. That is what we are after,” Balilo also said.