Foreign tanker under detention now classified as a ‘vessel of interest’ by NICA

A Chinese-manned tanker, the MT Hyperline 988, has been held by the Philippine Coast Guard since May 15 and is now considered a “vessel of interest” by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), according to PCG reports.

The vessel was detained in Zambales after its seven Chinese crew members and captain were found to have insufficient documentation. Rear Admiral Armand Balilo, PCG spokesman, stated that while the deficiencies could be easily corrected, the vessel cannot be released due to concerns raised by NICA.

Deficiencies in the vessel’s paperwork include questionable entries in crew members’ passports and seaman’s books, expired safety certificates, and defective safety equipment certificates. Even if these deficiencies are addressed, clearance from NICA will be necessary for the vessel’s release.

The MT Hyperline 988, which was reported to have flown the Philippine flag despite being registered under Sierra Leone, had arrived from Hong Kong before dropping anchor off San Felipe, Zambales. The vessel was supposed to go to Manila but opted for Zambales due to lower anchorage fees.

In addition to the vessel detention, the PCG has deployed 110 personnel to six districts where smuggling of humans, firearms, and illegal drugs is prevalent. The agency is committed to upholding maritime security and territorial integrity, particularly in areas with high maritime traffic.

The PCG, along with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police, is cracking down on smuggling activities that are detrimental to the economy. The agency’s operations are focused on addressing domestic issues and ensuring the smooth flow of maritime economics in the country.

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