Malacañang on Monday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to investigate Chinese dredging vessels conducting illegal dredging activities in the country.

In the House of Representatives, lawmakers also on Monday called for an investigation into the proliferation of Chinese ships conducting illegal dredging activities in the country’s waters. 

Personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard d and the Bureau of Customs held the Chinese vesel Zhonhai 68, for illegal dredging operations , off Orion Point, Bataan on the morning of Wednesday, January 27. 

Progressive lawmakers of the Makabayan Bloc sought the probe in a resolution entitled, “Resolution urging the House of Representatives, through the committee on natural resources, to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the proliferation of Chinese dredging ships conducting illegal dredging activities in the Philippines.”

“This incident is not the first time Chinese-manned dredging ships were caught conducting illegal activities in the Philippines. Since 2017, there are several reports of illegal Chinese dredging activities in different parts of the country,” the resolution read, saying these activities “disrespect” the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque wondered whether the Chinese dredger was given permission to operate by local government units, saying it would not have come to Philippine wasters if it has no purpose.

“Ang tanong: saan ginagamit itong mga dredging vessels na ito? Baka naman iyan ay ginagamit dito sa ilang mga lugar sa Pilipinas na may pagpayag ng mga lokal na pamahalaan (The question is: what were these dredging vessels used for? Perhaps it was used in some areas in the country with the approval of local government units)?” he said.

He wondered whether the Chinese dredger was used for supposed black sand operations since it was found near Orion in Zambales.

“So ang nais kong malaman: Ginagamit ba ito para sa black sand operation diyan sa mga karatig bayan ng Bataan at sinong nagbibigay permiso rito (I want to know, is this used for black sand operation in places near Bataan and who gave permission)?” he added.

Roque asked the DENR to find out whether the Chinese dredger is being used to get natural resources and bring them to other countries.

“Ibig sabihin po, hindi naman pupunta iyan dito kung walang gumagamit niyan at ang nais kong malaman – sana po mabigyan ng kasagutan ng DENR – ay ginagamit ba itong mga Chinese dredging vessels na ito para kunin iyong tanging yaman ng Pilipinas at ipadala sa ibang bansa (It means, it won’t go here if it’s not being used. I want to know, and I hope the DENR will answer, are these Chinese dredging vessels used to get the Philippines’ natural resources to be brought in other countries)?” he said.

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