PANGASINAN – A task force was firned to probe the death of two Vietnamese fishermen and the arrest of five others who were caught after a chase in Bolinao seas on September 22.
Chaired by Captain Danilo Enopia of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and vice-chaired by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), with the Philippine Navy (PN), Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PangPPO), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), as members, task force will conduct an indepth investigation into the incident to determine whether the personnel of the Philippine Navy were justified in firing at the Vietnamese fishing vessel in a sea chase in Pangasinan waters.
The Philippine Navy stood firm on its claim that they only fired warning shots when the fishing boats sped off and refused to yield despite their repeated calls for them to stop.
The two fatalities were identified as Le Van Liem and Le Van Reo.Their bodies which bore gunshot wounds were found on the boat’s deck.
The other five surviving crew members were identified as Pham To, boat captain, Phan Lam, Nguyen Thanh Chi, Phan Van Liem, and Nguyen Van Trong.
Also found in the vessel were several pieces of big yellow fin tuna , and a sack of dried squid.
Investigators said they did not find any gun in the vessel.
Meanwhile, Task Force spokesperson and PNP Pangasinan Provincial Director Senior Supt. Ronald Lee said the 49 crew members of BRP Miguel Malvar have already been relieved pending results of the investigation.
He also said that the crew members have already surrendered their firearms which consist of 10 M-16 rifles and two .50-caliber guns.
“Sa report ng Philippine Navy ay nagpaputok sila ng warning shots, but hindi pa klaro kung sino o may natamaan o kung nagpaputok din ‘yung sa kabila (fishing vessel) dahil wala tayong nakuhang baril sa kanila,” Lee said. (Tawid News/with report of Venus H. Sarmiento, PIA 1, Pangasinan)