INDONS NAB 49 PINOY FISHERS, SINK BOATS

Fishing boats are dock at a wharf in the southern Philippines island of BasilanJanuary 30, 2003. - An Indonesian naval warship sunk four fishing boats carrying 49 Filipino fishermen who were caught poaching in Indonesian waters.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Indon vessel KRI Untung Surapati opened fire on Monday off Sulawesi island and arrested the crew, who are now detained at a naval base at Manado in North Sulawesi.

An Indonesian Navy spokesman claimed the authorities fired warning shots three times but they (Filipinos) continued speeding at more than 20 knots an hour.

He said the Indonesian Navy was clamping down on illegal fishing, with 12 foreign boats sunk or seized in the past week.

A DFA source said the Filipinos on board were rescued before the pump boat sank. No one was reported injured.

"They were ordered to stop but they did not. We have sent an official from the Philippine consulate in Manado to find out what really happened. We need to hear from our own fishermen," the source said.

Indonesian Navy Col. Djoko Harjonto, Sulawesi intelligence chief, provided the consulate with details of the incident that occurred Monday morning.

The source said the DFA would request a copy of Indonesia's rule of engagement to determine whether it was really a procedure for them to sink the boats after arresting the fishermen.

"We will still have to decide what action to take. Philippine fishing boats were not being sunk before," the source said, adding the DFA will see if the Indonesian authorities are imposing stricter rules on illegal fishing. (Al Jacinto, PHNO Mindanao Bureau)


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