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PCG detains 17 vessels in Zambales dredging

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Friday said that it has detained 17 of the 28 vessels involved in dredging activities in Zambales after they saw deficiencies during inspections.

In a statement, PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said the 17 detained vessels are all bareboat charters registered in the Philippines. 

Three of the 28 inspected vessels are foreign particularly from China, Sierra Leone, and Panama, according to the PCG.

During the Tuesday inspection, the PCG found out that China’s cutter suction dredger has six deficiencies, Sierra Leone’s anchor boat has seven, while Panama’s tugboat has 12.

On Wednesday, the PCG inspected a suction cutter, a tugboat, and an anchor boat and identified several deficiencies. They will undergo adjudication at the Coast Guard Station (CGS) Zambales.

Thirteen more dredgers were also found with several deficiencies within the area of responsibility of CGS Manila, the PCG said. Nine of them have been detained.  

On Thursday, 10 vessels were inspected and more than 150 deficiencies were recorded for adjudication at CGS Manila. Eight of them were seized due to 30 detainable deficiencies. 

In total, there were 344 deficiencies recorded for adjudication of CGS Manila, the PCG said.

PCG commandant Admiral  Ronnie Gil Gavan earlier ordered a marine environmental protection inspection and vessel safety enforcement inspection on these vessels.

For the inspections, PCG personnel obtained a copy of special permits and bareboat charter issued by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to compare it with the list of identified dredgers and suction cutters in Zambales.

On March 13, a Senate investigation into the "unabated" dredging activities allegedly conducted by Chinese workers in coastal areas of Zambales was sought.

Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. defended the dredging activities of Chinese workers in coastal areas of the province.

He said the dredging activities have been conducted to clear the river from silts from the sand and lahar from the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption. —Joviland Rita/ VAL, GMA Integrated News