By Jhon Dave Ablat
BATANES – A suspected Taiwanese fishing boat was spotted by local fishermen inside Philippine waters near Misanga island in the northern part Batanes province last Friday, April 10.
Fisherman Jomar Loquis from Mahatao town reported the incident, and bared that the boat bore a tag name “Discovery” and some Chinese character-inscriptions.
“Nu ngaran naw nu boat aw am ‘Discovery’ kan ari pa u instik na sa, (The inscribed name of the boat was Discovery with Chinese characters)” Loquis stated.
“Nawri lang ava u Taiwanese boat daw ta aru pa as nagkataon a naw masngen jamen, (It is not the only Taiwanese boat that we’ve encountered that day, but we only have a picture of this boat because it was near our location at that moment)” he added.
The fisherman also revealed that the alleged foreign intruders had high speed boats, and seemed to be undaunted even if they were in Philippine waters.
Loquis claimed that they have had frequent encounters with foreign fishing vessels, especially those from the nearby Taiwan in Mavudis and Ditarem islands of Batanes.
Meanwhile, according to officials of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Batanes, the incident was verified, but they admitted having difficulty patrolling the waters of the country’s northernmost island.
“Aluminum boats lang po asset ng Coast Guard natin dito, na di po applicable for deployment sa part na yun ng Batanes dahil po sa laki ng mga alon doon. Kaya po ang ginagawa po namin is nagrereport po kami sa higher headquarters para makapagrequest po ng barko sa Navy or sa BFAR na capable naman po sa paghahabol sa mga ganitong Taiwanese boats na mas advance sa technology and mas mabibilis ang takbo,” a PCG official said.
He also said the foreign vessels were most likely engaged in fishing activities in Philippine waters.
“Sa video po nung nakakita, wala pong nakitang activity, parang dumadaan lang, pero based to many witnesses kasi na nagrereport, it seems na nangingisda na talaga sila doon,” the officer said.
According to PCG-Batanes, the incident was already reported to the PCG Northern Luzon District, and they were still waiting for further orders from higher office.
This sighting last April 10 was the third reported incident of local fishermen having encounter with foreign fishing boats in Batanes waters this year.