By Macon Ramos-Araneta
Two re-elected senators called on authorities to look into the case of a Vietnamese vessel that ran aground on a coral reef sanctuary in Biliran Thursday.
Senator Francis Escudero demanded that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources investigate the Vietnamese vessel and find out what business they have in passing through Philippine territory.
For her part, Senator Loren Legarda trained her sights on the Coast Guard to protect the Philippine maritime resource.
Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, learned that a 50-feet Vietnamese vessel named MV Unicorn Lodger bound for Japan and loaded with logs ran aground the island of Sambauan, Maripipi in Biliran.
`“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.
According to government reports, the boat has 18 Vietnamese crew onboard. The crew is now detained inside the vessel by the local government of Naval, province of Biliran.
Legarda sought an end to the coral destruction and called on the Coast Guard to be vigilant in protecting the Philippine waters.
Escudero said facts on the specific case have to be uncovered first to find out if this is just an accident or a case similar to its precedents this year.
Last April 8, Chinese fishing vessel F/V Min Long Yu conked out on the Tubattaha reef, a World Heritage listed marine sanctuary, in Palawan damaging the reef more than the damage done by USS Guardian on January 17.