Fishermen from detained Taiwanese ship freed by the Philippines

Manila, May 13 (CNA) The captain and crew aboard a Taiwanese fishing ship detained in Batanes Province last week for alleged poaching in the Philippines' territorial waters were released and allowed to return home Wednesday after paying a fine of US$50,000. Lin Tung-heng (???), a section chief of Taiwan's representative office in the Philippines, and Hsu Chz-yeh (???), an official with Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration, presented a check for US$50,000 to the Philippines' Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to pay the fine. The sum had been remitted to the Philippines by the family of Captain Hung Tien-ting (???). The fisheries agency then filed a motion with the Basco district prosecutors' office and court to drop the case, and the court agreed, leading to the immediate release of the ship, its captain and crew. Hung, who will leave the Philippines Thursday along with his ship and crew, said after the court ruling that he was still considering whether to return to Taiwan or go on another fishing trip to make up for losses from the fine. Expressing the financial pressure he felt in paying the fine, Hung told CNA that he will discuss the issue with his family before making a decision. He also voiced his gratitude for Taiwan's representatives in Manila for their assistance over the past week. The Pingtung-registered Sheng Feng No. 12 was detained last Thursday while passing through waters 6.5 nautical miles off the coast of Yami Island when inspectors on a Philippines ship approached and boarded the fishing boat to see if it was operating illegally. The six people aboard the ship -- Captain Hung, chief engineer Huang An-sheng (???) and four Indonesian fishermen -- were each released on 15,000 pesos (US$336) bail last Friday after negotiations with Filipino officials. They were allowed to move freely in the Philippines before appearing in court Wednesday. (By Emerson Lim and Evelyn Kao)