Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Malaysian Navy detains three Filipino fishermen in South China Sea

South China Sea, Philippines, Malaysia

A Malaysian naval patrol has detained three Filipino fishermen for encroaching in territorial waters in the disputed Spratlys this month, according to the Philippine military. This is the first incident involving the Southeast Asian neighbors.

The Philippines and Malaysia have overlapping exclusive economic zones in the disputed South China Sea. Many experts believed that the South China Sea is rich in deposits of oil and gas. The South China Sea is almost entirely claimed by China.

But Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim the sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

According to reports, on May 9, 2016 a Philippine vessel was about 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Commodore Reef, one of nine Philippine-held territories in the South China Sea, when a Malaysian patrol boat intercepted it for encroaching in territorial waters.

The Filipino vessel attempted to flee, however the Malaysian patrol vote gave chase and was able to caught up with the Philippine vessel. The Filipinos fishermen were detained and after a couple of hours they were turned over to Philippine troops stationed on Commodore Reef, a Philippine navy spokeswoman said.

"The Western Command is saddened by the incident involving our fellow Filipinos," Captain Cherryl Tindog said in a statement, adding that the fishermen received medical treatment. "They are in stable condition, except for some bruises."

The fishermen complained of having been punched and kicked during questioning by the Malaysian Navy after being apprehended, Tindog added.

"We were treated like criminals," Nelson Plamiano, one of the fishermen, told broadcaster GMA 7.


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