Tue, Jul 29, 2003 - Page 1 News List

More Taiwanese fishing boats in the Philippines escape

By Brian Hsu and Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) has sent six patrol vessels to escort two Taitung-registered fishing boats that escaped from the Philippines, which had been holding them on suspicion of illegal fishing.

The crew of the two boats, Chin Chun Man and Yu Yin Tsai, managed to escape from custody at a port in the northern Philippines on Sunday night, apparently taking advantage of a mutiny unfolding in the capital, Manila.

The CGA said it had not made radio contact with the boats as of press time last night.

A helicopter was dispatched to search for the two boats, each of which was carrying five crew members.

A spokesman for the CGA denied wire service reports that the Philippines military was chasing the two boats.

"We have no information of that kind. We wonder how some newspapers were able to know the Philippine military was chasing the two fishing boats," the spokesman said.

"There is no need to put too much emphasis on the escape and return of the two fishing boats. What is really important is how to prevent such incidents from happening again," he said.

The Chin Chun Man and Yu Yin Tsai were taken into custody by Philippine authorities in May after they were found to have entered waters claimed by the Philippines.

Several days ago, four other fishing boats which had been held by the Philippines since last year escaped from detention during rough weather caused by Typhoon Imbudo.

Two other Taiwanese fishing boats remain in custody in the Philippines for allegedly fishing illegally.

Weng Yi-fang (翁義芳) of the foreign ministry's East-Asian and Pacific Affairs Department said yesterday that Manila had expressed its intention of releasing the two boats it still holds.

"The government in the Philippines has expressed its willingness to release all the detained crew and boats by the end of this year since it doesn't want to see these fishing disputes affect Taipei-Manila ties," Weng said.

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