More than 100 rescued in operation vs human smuggling in Bataan
More than 100 persons were saved in a joint anti-human smuggling operation in Bataan on Tuesday morning.
Capt. Armando Balilo, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman, said the operation led by the National Coast Watch Center with the Philippine Coast Guard and the National Bureau of Investigation resulted to the rescue of a total of 139 undocumented passengers onboard the MV Forever Lucky, a passenger ship, in Bataan around 1 am.
Balilo said the operation was made following reports about a domestic passenger vessel in Bataan that was allegedly involved in human smuggling.
“The National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) of the Office of the President received information from a foreign counterpart a domestic passenger vessel of interest in Bataan was allegedly involved in human smuggling and other illegal activities,” he said.
“Being the lead coordinator in maritime security operations, and in pursuit of whole of government approach, the NCWC flagged the info to the PCG and the NBI that a certain vessel “MV Forever Lucky”, owned and operated by Farenheit Company Ltd (SBMA registered), presently docked in Orion, Bataan, was preparing to depart Philippines for Micronesia to transport undocumented number of Filipinos”, he added.
Balilo said authorities found “the company produced falsified and fictitious Special Permit to Navigate upon checking.”
“There was also no Certificate of Public Convenience or franchise to legalize its operation, no manifest for the 139 passengers on board, and other documents required for its operation,” he said.
He also mentioned 41 crew of the passenger ship was apprehended and placed under the custody of PCG and NBI for processing at Port of Orion.
Balilo said authorities are still conducting investigation to file charges against persons behind the illegal activity.
Rear Admiral Joel Garcia, cirector of the National Coast Watch Center, assures the government will continue monitoring to prevent illegal activities within the country's territorial waters.
“We will continue to provide and maintain strict monitoring of all the vessels which enter, leave and transit within our territorial waters to prevent them from their lawlessness activities to protect our country’s sovereign waters and more importantly, our Filipino people,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS