MANILA, The Philippines -- Barely 48 hours after the apprehension of Hoi Wan was reported in Puerto Princesa, a representative from the Chinese Embassy was there clamoring for its immediate release. At the time, Manila media did not even know about the incident. But, the embassy official there demanded it be let go without delay, and even escorted out of Philippine waters by the Navy.
Kidnapping, they alleged. Arbitrary detention, they charged. Over and over again, the embassy official, as well as South Pacific Inter Marketing, laid on the legal and diplomatic pressure. Although the DFA officially denied it, sources from government offices involved in the arrest and processing reported intervention from officials of that Department. Why the rush?
Now, the truth is beginning to emerge. They had everything to lose, and everything to hide.
Hoi Wan had no permits to buy fish, as they claim. They have no CITES import application with Hongkong AFCD, although they claim to be registered there. They also have no CITES permit or export application with the BFAR here in the Philippines. And, if as they claimed on Palawan radio, the fish they had come from Malaysia, they have no Malaysian CITES permit either. This shipment was completely illegal.
Hoi Wan officially left the Philippines on December 3, after giving verbal notice on the phone. The vessel and crew never physically stopped at the Immigration office in Bonggao on its way out. Neither did it stop at Customs, the Coast Guard and MARINA. Considering the fact that it was carrying live fish, specifically live Napoleon Wrasse, it bypassed the most important inspection of all – a visit to the Fisheries Office. Its exit papers were, at the very least, irregular. It had to get out as soon as possible, unnoticed.
To make things worse, it was arrested in the Sulu Sea, carrying its illegal cargo, more than two weeks AFTER it was supposed to have left the Philippines. What was it doing there? The vessel was clocked at a speed of 16 knots by the ranger team. Why did it take two weeks to get from Bonggao to Tubbataha? It should have been in Hongkong by then. What happens to overstaying aliens?
South Pacific Inter Marketing, their Philippine agent is not registered with the SEC, nor with DTI of ARMM. It is not legally registered under Philippine law. Considering the fact that in barely one shipment, it was carrying more than a Million pesos worth of fish in its holds, would the Bureau of Internal Revenue want to check their book of accounts? How many trips had South Pacific Inter Marketing engineered to buy fish in Philippine waters? This operation is completely illegal.
Why the rush? Clearly, many pockets were involved. And, many toes were going to get stepped on if the truth came out? Who had a motive to cover this up, and get the Hoi Wan out of the Philippines, as soon as possible?
Let me answer with a question…who complained the loudest? Should these individuals be declared persona non grata? And who, in the Philippine government, did nothing to help bring the Hoi Wan and its crew to face the bar of justice?
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