They were on board of a distressed vessel
TACLOBAN CITY-The seven Chinese nationals whose ship, FV Da 899 currently docked four nautical miles from the port of this city, are calling for help to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
This was conveyed by Cherry Song, whose Chinese husband is a cousin of the owner of the vessel, who showed a video to the Leyte Samar Daily Express on the appeal of the Chinese nationals identified as Tong Yat Sun, Lei Deng Zai, Mak Pak Lem, He Cheng Sun, and Chen Zhe Nei.
Sun and Nei serve as the chief engineer and captain of the ship respectively. All are from Guangdong, China except for Sun and Lam who are from Hong Kong.
“They say President Marcos help us return to China. They now feel distressed,” she said, referring to the video appeal of the Chinese nationals made in Chinese.
“They are appealing to our President and our other government officials for them to leave and return to China. They have families who are waiting for them to return. It’s been two months running since the boat was towed,” Song added.
Song, a Filipina, is the wife of Guahua Song who is a cousin of Luo Fangmeng, the owner of the Binhai County Fifth Shipping Company which operates FV Dai 899.
Fangmeng contacted Guahua when the vessel, described by them as a supply vessel, broke its rudder and hull.
The vessel was from Fujian en route to Guangdong, also in China.
The vessel, which departed from Fujian on Jan.22, was found drifting in the waters of Suluan Island, off Guiuan town, Eastern Samar on Jan.26, as reported by the government authorities.
It was later towed and currently anchored at the San Pedro Bay, four nautical miles away from the port of Tacloban.
According to Song, the vessel has been inspected thoroughly by the personnel from the Coast Guard and even by elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and found nothing illegal inside the 496-tonnage ship.
“They just happened to make a distress call; they were in a maritime peril, reason the vessel was towed to Tacloban port for humanitarian reasons. But based on the coordinates that we have seen and examined, they were located outside the Philippine territory but on the high sea,” she said.
Song, expressing the sentiments of the stranded Chinese nationals, said that if indeed the Filipino authorities through the Coast Guard are sincere in helping the foreigners, they should allow them to fix the ship and for them to depart.
“We have offered to fix the damage of the ship but they ignored us. If indeed they are really sincere in helping these Chinese nationals, and for humanitarian grounds and as the ship did not contain anything illegal, they should allow them to leave and return to China,” she said, adding that they are providing food for these foreigners.
Song also disclosed that they have already asked for help from the Presidential Complaint Center last Feb.3.
The letter, however, was referred to the Department of Foreign Affairs ‘for appropriate action.’ They have yet to receive any response from the said office, Song said.
She added that allowing the stranded Chinese nationals to return home might result in goodwill from the Chinese government.
The relations between the two countries are sometimes strained due to the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes.
The Coast Guard has earlier said that they would only allow the vessel, which it described as ‘dilapidated’, if everything has been cleared.
JOEY A. GABIETA