10:18 pm | Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The regional trial court has allowed the 12 Chinese fishers responsible for the grounding of their vessel in Tubbataha Reefs in April to post bail, according to their lawyer.
Richalex Jagmis, counsel for the Chinese nationals currently detained at the Palawan provincial jail, said he received the decision on the bail petition he filed Monday afternoon from RTC Branch 51 Presiding Judge Ambrosio de Luna.
The court, however, doubled the bail amount recommended by the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office handling the case for the complainant Tubbataha Management Office from P120,000 to P240,000 each, or a total of P2.8 million.
It pointed out that the accused need to appear before the hearings on charges of poaching and illegal possession of endangered species.
The accused are set to be arraigned for additional cases, including violation of the Philippine Wildlife Act and attempted bribery. The latter complaint arose from a report made by the park rangers of Tubbataha stating that the Chinese had tried to bribe them after the grounding incident.
“I don’t know yet what will be the action on the part of my clients. And the order states that they need to appear before the hearings,” Jagmis said.
The Chinese vessel’s grounding in Tubbataha came right after a similar incident involving a US Navy minesweeper, which prompted American authorities to dismantle the ship on site.
The inspection conducted by Tubbataha park rangers on the Chinese fishing boat led to the discovery of 400 boxes of pangolin meat stashed inside its holding bay.
Environmental groups in Palawan had earlier raised concern over the issuance of a deportation order by the Bureau of Immigration against the Chinese, noting that such action could render useless the government’s efforts to prosecute the violators.
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