PUERTO PRINCESA CITY -– The nine Chinese fishermen arrested in Hasa-Hasa Shoal early this month for illegal possession of endangered green sea and hawksbill turtles entered a “not guilty” plea Wednesday at Branch 51 of the Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC).
The fishermen made the plea at the sala of Judge Ambrosio de Luna for alleged violation of two sections of the Philippine Fisheries Law that deal with poaching and collecting of endangered and critically-endangered marine species.
They were represented by a lawyer provided by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to continue hearing their cases following their refusal to hire a private counsel.
With the help of local interpreter Felix Lao, the arraignment proved a bit difficult since translation had to be in Mandarin language then translated to their local dialect in Hainan Province.
For claiming they are indigent fishermen, De Luna ruled that the nine Chinese fishermen obtain certificates of indigency from the Chinese Embassy to qualify for the services of a legal counsel from PAO.
They are currently detained at the Palawan Provincial Jail (PPJ).