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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Philippine "pirate" furor continues

As reported here, the recent capture of 5 pirates by local fishermen in the PI may not be what it seems:
Five alleged sea pirates were arrested by Negrense fishermen Tuesday, but the head of the Masbate Provincial Bantay Dagat said they were his men and that their two other companions had been killed.

Maritime Command Region 6 chief, Supt. Cornelio Salinas, Wednesday said sea pirates have been boarding fishing vessels within the waters of Iloilo and Negros and threatening owners that their boats will be seized and their crew arrested unless an amount, ranging from P100,000 to P500,000, is deposited in their account.

The pirates radio the owners to deposit the amount sought in their account, and if they fail to do so their vessels are dragged to Masbate where the crew is charged for illegal fishing, he added.

Roy Vijandre, president of the Commercial Fishing Boat Operators, who operates F/B Laura, yesterday said his crew had also been victimized by the five men apprehended at sea Tuesday who are now detained at the Cadiz City jail.

It was Diosdado Briones, president of the Tri-Media Club of Masbate who has identified himself as the director of the Masbate Provincial Bantay Dagat, who demanded from him the payment of a P150,000 fine for the release of the F/B Laura, Vijandre said.

The payment was deposited in a bank account named by Briones but no receipt was given to him, he added.

The bank account number was 0901098905 in the name of Monseratt Nazareno Aguilar.

The lack of a definite delineation of municipal waters has made it easy for unscrupulous groups in the high seas to charge vessels with illegal fishing, Vijandre said.

We are vulnerable to their whims, something must be done about this, he said.

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