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Caguio asks: How do we prosecute past Chinese vessel intrusions?

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“AREN’T YOU asking for the impossible?” This was the question posed by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjami S. Caguioa to the petitioners for Writ of Kalikasan for the protection of the Philippine territory in the exclusive economic zone and filing of criminal complaints against Chinese fishermen found poaching in the area. Mr. Caguio said during Tuesday’s oral arguments on the case: “2012, 2013, 2015, for these vessels that may no longer be there and you cannot even certify as a fact that they are still there. Aren’t you asking for the impossible?” He asked this to Andre S. Palacios, legal counsel of the petitioner fisherfolk, given their request for the government to imprison the Chinese fishermen in the vessel on the incidents during those years, which were also cited in the 2016 Arbitral Award won by the Philippines before an international tribunal. Mr. Palacios said they want criminal complaints be filed against the fishermen in the Chinese vessels and there may be an opportunity that the country may acquire jurisdiction over them. A group of fisherfolk from Palawan and Zambales filed the petition asking the Supreme Court to compel the government to enforce environmental laws protecting the environment, citing that it has refused to take legal action against those who commit violations, specifically the Chinese. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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