Philippines ignores China demand to free fishermen
May 9, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
MANILA--Philippine authorities are investigating whether 11 detained Chinese fishermen entered the country's waters illegally to catch endangered turtles, police said Thursday, despite a Chinese demand for their immediate release.
Police detained the fishermen and their boat, which allegedly contained more than 350 green sea turtles, in a disputed area called Half Moon Shoal, sparking the latest spat between the Asian nations in the increasingly volatile South China Sea.
China pressed the Philippine government to free the fishermen and the boat, warning Manila on Thursday not to take any more "provocative actions so as to avoid further damage to bilateral relations."
Asked if the Philippines would heed China's demand, national police chief Alan Purisima said the fishermen will be investigated by an inter-agency committee to determine if they committed any crimes, including illegal entry and catching an endangered species.