Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officials pressed charges Friday afternoon against the 10 undocumented Chinese nationals who were apprehended in July along the coast of Barangay Concepcion in this city.
Commander Severino Destura Jr., acting station commander of the Coast Guard Station Puerto Princesa (CGSPP) represented the PCG in filing the criminal cases at the City Prosecutor’s Office.
“Nag-file kami ng violation ng immigration act natin, illegal entry tapos magpa-file din kami ng violation ng customs law, and then isinama na rin namin yong violation ng R.A. 11332 Bayanihan Act yong pinapatupad yong health protocol natin,” he said.
The foreign nationals are Den Kang Xiang, 44, Xiang Luo Xiao Giang, 34, Xu Yuan Sen, 21, Chen Zhen Gi, 65, Zhou Wei, 35, Chang Liu Ging, 27, Zhao Jian Hui, 37, Lien Nua Wei, 27, and Zhao Zhou Yin, 37. They will be facing criminal raps for violation of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, Republic Act (RA) 10663 or the Customs Modernization Tariff Act (CMTA) and RA 11332 or Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
The Chinese nationals are yet to respond to the allegations posed by the PCG and are expected to file their counter-arguments within 10 days.
“Ngayon nakapag-file na tayo and then nakausap naman ng fiscal na ‘yong representative ng counsel nila dito sa Palawan kasi ‘yong counsel nila sa Manila pa ang desisyon nila ay mag-waive so magaantay tayo ng 10 days period para makapag-present sila ng argument nila doon sa sinampa nating kaso,” Destura said.
The suspects, who were aboard a yacht from Tianjin City in mainland China, were intercepted on July 21 as they “intentionally disembarked” at the city waters without proper documentation from the immigration authorities. They claimed to have been en route to Hong Kong and went to Palawan “to gather reprovision of food and to refuel”.
Due to the health protocols implemented, they were put into quarantine for 14 days. On August 5, they underwent physical examination which “turned out well” which started the clock for the arrest and search and seizure.
“July 21 sila na intercept pero in effect ‘yong arrest noong 5 pa lang August 5 sa kadahilanan na napaka-risky para sa law enforcers natin na magkaroon kaagad ng contact sa kanila not knowing ‘yong risk ng infection dahil galing po sila sa China mismo so minabuti muna naming na i-observe muna nila ‘yong quarantine period na mandatory for 14 days,” he said.
Destura declined to disclose to the public the pieces of evidence they found on the yacht but has assured to disclose the details after 10 days.
Destura also believes that they have a strong case against the Chinese nationals.
“Ipe-presenta naman natin lahat ng statement ng mga arresting officer at mga part ng law enforcement team, mga miyembro, so nakikita naming na malakas ang kaso and then very obvious naman talaga ang kanilang violation ng illegal entry kasi wala naman talaga silang papel,” he said.
As of this writing, the Chinese nationals are still under the custody of the PCG.