09 March 2016

Palace: NoKor ship stays until probe is completed

MALACAÑANG yesterday said the North Korean vessel being held at the Subic Bay Freeport would remain under Philippine custody until the investigation is completed and a decision is reached on what to do with the ship.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Philippines is committed to upholding a United Nations Security Council resolution that restricts the movement of vessels that may be used in transporting equipment or armaments that the UN seeks to restrict.

“The Philippine government is complying with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2270 on the imposition of sanctions pertaining to North Korea. For this reason, the M/V Jin Teng has been impounded in the port of Subic, Zambales...It was decided that the Coast Guard will continue to hold the vessel at port until the ongoing inquiry and investigation has been completed. It was also agreed that the crew may be allowed to leave if justified by the results of the investigation,” Coloma said.

He said an interagency body composed of the foreign affairs, transportation, and justice departments, along with the Bureau of Immigration and Philippine Coast Guard has met with the National Coast Watch Center to discuss further actions on the vessel.

Last Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said no date has been set as to when the 21 crew members of the vessel would be allowed to leave the country.

The Jin Teng is registered and flagged under multiple countries but is said to be one of the 31 listed vessels owned by North Korea. It arrived in Subic Bay on March 4 and was impounded by the Philippine Coast Guard.

The UN resolution, which was passed after a North Korean nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket test in February, requires all member states to inspect all cargo ships to and from North Korea.

It also bans all exports including coal, iron, iron ore, gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore, rare earth metals, and all types of aviation fuel to North Korea. (Jocelyn Montemayor, Malaya)

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.