Crew of vessel rescued off Samar are ‘crime suspects’ in China, embassy says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 11)— The Chinese crew of a distressed vessel rescued in waters off Eastern Samar in January are tagged as crime suspects in China, according to Beijing’s embassy in Manila.

In a letter sent to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) dated March 7 and shared with CNN Philippines on Saturday, the Chinese embassy warned that the crew of KAI DA 899 have been “engaged in crime and wanted by China’s police authority.”

It also requested assistance from Philippines authorities in deporting the Chinese nationals.

“In order to bring the above mentioned suspects to justice in China, may I humbly request your good office to implement legal procedure against them and transfer the jurisdiction to Bureau of Immigration (BI) at your earliest convenience, so that we can deport the suspects out of the Philippines,” the embassy’s letter read.

No further details about their cases were provided as of publishing.

The seven crew members were rescued by the PCG in the vicinity of Suluan Island in Guiuan town on Jan. 27. Their vessel — which had a damaged hull — was then towed to Tacloban Port.

The PCG earlier raised doubts about the crewmen's statements regarding their identities and vessel as they failed to present the necessary supporting documents.

The agency said it was coordinating with the BI and the Department of Justice regarding the matter.