Commodore Edgardo Tamayo, head of the Naval Forces West, issued the statement after Vietnamese fishermen on board 7 boats were arrested just 2 nautical miles off Baragay Tamburok in Balabac, Palawan province last May 31.
Tamayo said under Republic Act 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code, foreign poachers can only be fined and deported.
He quoted the code's Section 87, which states: "The entry of any foreign fishing vessel in Philippine waters shall constitute a prima facie evidence that the vessel is engaged in fishing in Philippine waters.Violation of the above shall be punished by a fine of One Hundred Thousand U.S. Dollars (US$100,000.00), in addition to the confiscation of its catch, fishing equipment and fishing vessel: Provided, that the Department is empowered to impose an administrative fine of not less than Fifty Thousand U.S. Dollars (US$50,000.00) but not more than Two Hundred Thousand U.S. Dollars (US$200,000.00) or its equivalent in the Philippine Currency."
He added that the Navy also lacks enough ships and equipment to protect the country's vast territorial waters.
This could be alleviated by more than P11 billion allotted to modernize the Armed Forces within the next 3 years.