Vice President and Justice Minister Raynold Oilouch has requested for a public hearing from Congress in response to the queries made previously by three senators regarding the handling of the case against two detained Filipino fishing boats which was later released. [restrict]

Oilouch said that instead of again responding via letter to the queries raised by Senators Regis Akitaya, Camsek Chin and Mason Whipps , a public hearing with the senators will properly address the concerns.

“I ask the Senate to schedule a hearing or meeting, whichever you see fit so that I can come and address any and all questions pertaining to this matter,” Oilouch said in a August 2 letter address to Senate President Hokkons Baules.

In a July 13 letter, Sens.Akitaya,  Chin and  Whipps said that there are several issues and questions left unanswered despite a letter in June from the Attorney General Ernestine Rengiil and Vice President Raynold Oilouch explaining why the fishing vessels released and the release of the  detained Filipino fishermen.

Palau Patrol Boat “Remeliik” detained two Filipino vessels in May. The two vessels were  believed to be involved in fishing activities within the Palau waters in violation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act (PNMS). The detained vessels included one Purse Seiner with 16 crews and a Fish Carrier with 8 crews.

Oilouch  in an earlier statement said  that instead of filing charges against the fishermen caught on board the seized vessels, “the Division of Marine Law Enforcement (DMLE) took action to unload the fish and to repatriate back to the Philippines the Fish Carrier and its crew, along with the crew of the Purse Seiner, and other fishermen who had been held here for about 6 months.’

Oilouch said that the decision to send the Fish Carrier back the Philippines was based on a number of reasons, including the strength of government’s case against the Fish Carrier and its owner(s), the increasing financial burden on the government for the continuing care of the fishermen while being held at Marine Law Dock, and the limited space at Marine Law Dock to hold increasing number of vessels.

The vice president in his letter to Baules stated that Akitaya, Chin and Whipps should also attend the scheduled hearing if any to “clear whatever concerns/confusion they may have.”

Oilouch said that Sen. Baules is keen on the conduct of the hearing.

Akitaya, Chin and Whipps want the AGO to explain the legal basis of on releasing the vessels, or whether such decision was in consultation with the Office of the President. ( B. Carreon) [/restrict]