MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to investigate the circumstances behind the recent grounding of a Panamanian-registered cargo vessel on a coral reef sanctuary in Eastern Visayas.

“We have to know where the vessel came from, where it is going, what business do they have in passing through Philippine shores, and what were they doing that led to the destruction of a large area of yet another of our coral reef sanctuary, a marine protected area,” Escudero said Tuesday.

The 50-feet MV Unicorn Lodger bound for Japan loaded with logs and manned by a Vietnamese crew ran aground off Sambauan Island in Biliran province’s Maripipi town.

According to government reports, the boat was manned by 18 Vietnamese sailors. The crewmembers have been detained inside the vessel by the local government of Naval in Biliran.

Last April 8, Chinese fishing vessel F/V Min Long Yu also ran aground Tubattaha Reef, a World Heritage-listed marine sanctuary in Palawan.

A week ago, authorities said they had deployed a gun boat and a surveillance plane to Tubattaha after a suspected Vietnamese fishing vessel was seen there.


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