Chinese crew of detained carrier in Zambales face charges

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MT HYPERLINE 988.jpg
M/T Hyperline 988, an aggregate carrier registered under the flag of Sierra Leone, is detained by the Philippine Coast Guard off the coast of San Felipe, Zambales on May 16, 2024 after incurring at least 21 deficiencies. (Photo by PCG)

The seven-man Chinese crew of a foreign aggregate carrier which was detained by authorities off the coast of San Felipe, Zambales exactly a month ago face charges now for allegedly violating Philippine immigration laws and disobedience to persons in authority, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) disclosed on Sunday, June 16.

The PCG has filed a case for violation of Commonwealth Act 613 or the Philippine Immigration Law against the crew of M/T Hyperline 988 “for gaining access to Philippine waters by way of misleading representation and concealment of material facts,” said Rear Adm. Armando Balilo, the agency’s spokesperson.

The case was filed by the Coast Guard Sub-Station (CGSS) San Felipe last May 24. A copy of subpoena was received by the PCG on June 11, setting the case for a preliminary investigation on June 20. 

On June 14, the PCG said it secured a copy of subpoena for complainant and subpoena for respondent.

The CGSS San Felipe endorsed the subpoena to the local police unit in San Felipe town for execution. 

However, the PCG said that the crew and a representative of the vessel’s owner allegedly “disobeyed” the authorities, prompting the CGSS San Felipe to file another case for violation of Article 151 (Serious Disobedience to an Agent of Person in Authority) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). The PCG did not provide other details how the Chinese crew committed disobedience as of this writing.

MV Hyperline 988, a Sierra Leone-registered carrier, was detained by the PCG on May 16 while anchored in the vicinity waters off San Felipe after incurring at least 21 “deficiencies”.

Accordingly, the vessel departed Hong Kong on May 11, their last port call, and arrived in Zambales four days later. However, The PCG received a report about the subject vessel hoisting a Philippine flag despite being registered under the flag of Sierra Leone.

The PCG said that the vessel turned off its automatic identification system (AIS) upon entering the Philippine waters. Coast Guard personnel tried communicating with the vessel’s crew via handheld radio “but they received no response,” the PCG added.

The PCG dispatched personnel to inspect the vessel but the crew failed to present original and printed versions of relevant documents including the crew list, passports of the crew members, and their seaman’s book.

According to the PCG, the shipmaster, whose identity was not revealed, said their intended port of destination was at the Manila Anchorage Area but due to high anchorage fees, they decided to go to Zambales for a more “affordable option.” 

The PCG said that San Felipe has no ports so the vessel could not pay anchorage fees there.