ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 15, 2011) – Philippine authorities have detained more than a dozen Chinese and Filipino crew of a Hong Kong fishing boat where soldiers had seized assorted weapons off Tawi-Tawi province, officials said.
Officials said the authorities were questioning the skipper of the ship Mai Ya Si, a Hong Kong national, including 7 Chinese and 11 Filipino seamen, who were also accused of poaching near the islands of Sibutu and Sitangkai late Wednesday.
The boat was also suspected of transporting illegal shipment of weapons and drugs into the country, said Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the military’s Western Mindanao Command.
“The vessel was poaching in the waters of Sibutu and Sitangkai islands in Tawi-Tawi province while illegally flying a Philippine flag. The ship was also suspected to be transporting assorted weapons, illegal drugs and chemicals used in the manufacture of illegal drugs,” he said without further elaborating, but claimed that the Filipino crewmen were composed of five policemen, a retired officer, an ex-air force soldier and five other ship workers.
“A search conducted on the boat led to the seizure of two M14 automatic rifles, four M16 automatic rifles, and an M16 with an M203 grenade launcher,” the spokesman said.
No other details were made available by the military, but said the ship is being held by authorities in Tawi-Tawi province. (Mindanao Examiner)