Philippine Officials Accuse Captain of Evading Quarantine Measures

Philippine officials boarding Harmony Six at Poro Point (PCG)

Published Feb 28, 2020 11:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Philippine Coast Guard has detained the bulker Harmony Six after the vessel's master allegedly gave false information about the ship's last port call in China. 

Like many other nations, the Philippines requires vessels arriving from China to wait for 14 days - during the transit voyage or at anchor off the port - before entering and conducting cargo operations. The waiting period is intended to enable detection of any possible novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on board. The master of the Harmony Six stands accused of misrepresenting the date of the vessel's departure from China in order to enter the Philippines after only six days under way. 

According to the Philippine Coast Guard, the Harmony Six departed Changzhou on February 18, and she allegedly turned off her AIS the following day. Her AIS signal resumed on February 23, in Philippine waters. Philippine authorities noted the sudden reappearance and investigated. 

In questioning, Vietnamese national Captain Luu Van Loi allegedly told officials that the vessel departed China on February 10, not February 18, in order to “fit into the 14-day quarantine period" at Philippine seaports. On the order of Philippine Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Joel Garcia, the vessel was detained at Poro Point, Luzon, and the Philippines Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) boarded to examine the crew. 

Philippine authorities are considering criminal charges for the alleged infraction. 

"The agency continues to exert all possible efforts to uphold maritime safety and maritime security at major ports of entry in the country by ensuring the strict implementation of guidelines and preventive measures against COVID-19," said PCG chief of operations Rear Adm. Ronnie Gil Gavan in a statement Thursday.