150 Filipino Workers Without Visas Arrested In PNG

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7 fishing vessels near West New Britain boarded by police

By Abigail Apina

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 6, 2012) – A total of 150 Filipinos were arrested and charged in Kimbe, West New Britain, yesterday for illegally staying in Papua New Guinea; they did not have valid passports and visas.

Provincial police commander Samson Siguyaru said they were caught last Saturday on seven foreign fishing vessels belonging to Trans Pacific Fishing Corporation, a company based in Manila; TSP Marine Industries, also based in the Philippines; and Coco Enterprise Ltd, based in Port Moresby.

He said the arrests had resulted from the Safe Papua New Guinea Operation carried out by PNG Customs and involved police, labor and employment, navy and quarantine officers. The officers went to Kimbe onboard PNG Navy Boat 02 and searched the vessels.

Siguyaru said the team, while in Kimbe for its islands region operation, spotted the seven fishing vessels between Talasea Bulu Point and Bali Vitu Island.

Siguyaru said although the vessels had valid licenses to fish in PNG waters, the 150 crew members did not have valid passports and visas.

Five of the seven vessels were escorted back to Kimbe harbor on Sunday afternoon while two escaped.

Police had completed all their files with the necessary charges laid.

The provincial police chief was also concerned that while searching the vessels, the officers came across some navy uniforms.

"It worries me to know that some current serving military personnel were onboard the vessels. I think it is only proper that the Philippines government, through its embassy, explain to the people of PNG why this is so.

"The PNG government should also take this critically and strengthen its intelligence service in the country," he said.

Siguyaru said a special court sitting had been arranged for all 150 crews to appear in the Kimbe District Court.

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