Malacañang is demanding answers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) about the presence of a Chinese dredging vessel in the country’s waters.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said they want to know who allowed the foreign vessel to operate in the country and if it was involved in black sand mining.
“Mga kababayan ang tanong, saan ginagamit ang dredging vessel na ito? Baka naman ‘yan ay ginagamit dito sa ilang mga lugar sa Pilipinas na may pagpayag ng lokal na pamahalaan (The question is where is the dredging vessel being used? It is probably being used in some parts of the Philippines with permission from the local government unit),” Roque said during a televised press briefing.
“Hindi naman pupunta ‘yan dito kung walang gumagamit niyan at ang nais kong malaman at sana bigyan ng kasagutan ng DENR ay ginagamit ba ito mga Chiense dredging vessels para kunin ang tanging yaman ng Pilipinas at ipadala sa bang bansa (It won’t travel here if no one uses it. I want to know and I hope the DENR will respond. Are these Chinese dredging vessels getting our natural resources in the Philippines and sending them to other countries?)” he asked.
Coast guard and customs authorities recently seized a Chinese dredging vessel for alleged illegal presence off the coast of Orion Point in Bataan province.
The Chinese ship flying a Sierra Leone flag was supposedly staying in the country for more than a year after it was permitted to leave the country.
Roque said the seized ship will undergo the process under the country’s laws. The Palace official admitted though he was puzzled about the presence of the foreign dredger off the waters of Orion, Bataan.
He noted that the ship was spotted near the area known to be a source of black sand in Zambales.
“Ang nais kong malaman — ginagamit ba ito para sa black sand operations diyan sa mga karatıg bansa ng Bataan at sino ang nagbibigay ng permiso rito (We want to know if this is being used for black sand operations for neighboring areas of Bataan and who gave them permission to do so,” he said.
“Ang dapat i-report sa taumbayan sino ang gumagamit sa dredging vessels na ito (They must report to the people who are using these dredging vessels),” he added.
On allegations the military was focused on alleged red-tagging instead of guarding local waters from threats, Roque dismissed such claims as part of the “propaganda” against the government.
He pointed out the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard continue to handle matters related to the defense of the territory. A separate military unit, on the other hand, is included in the national task force battling the local armed communist group.
“Hindi totoo na obsessed sila sa isa at napabayaan ang isa. Eh nahuli nga ang dredging vessel. Ano ba kayo. Kung natutulog sa pansitan ang hukbong sandatahan, eh di nakalusot ang dredging vessel na yan. The fact na nahuli belies the propaganda (It is not true the military is obsessed with one and ignored the other. The dredging vessel was caught. If the Armed Forces was sleeping on the job, the dredging vessel could have slipped past them. The fact it was caught belies the propaganda),” he said.