The Philippines' navy chief has relieved from duty the captain of a ship that figured in a confrontation with a Vietnamese fishing boat on the weekend, leaving two fishermen dead.
The crew of the navy patrol ship BRP Miguel Malvar was placed under restrictive custody aboard the vessel to make sure they are available during the investigation into the incident on Saturday off Bolinao town, over 200 kilometres north of Manila.
Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado ordered a "thorough and impartial inquiry into the unfortunate incident," said Colonel Edgard Arevalo, a spokesman for the armed forces.
Mercado had also commissioned an independent third-party investigation, Arevalo said.
According to a police report, 49 officers and personnel were aboard the BRP Miguel Malvar when it tried to stop the Vietnamese fishing boat on suspicion of illegal fishing.
But the fishing boat fled, prompting the Philippine navy ship to chase it.
The Foreign Affairs Department said navy personnel fired warning shots during the chase when the Vietnamese boat "initiated dangerous manoeuvres" causing it to slam into the Philippine vessel.
Five other crew members of the Vietnamese fishing boat were arrested after the incident.
Dozens of Vietnamese fishermen are arrested every year for poaching in Philippine waters. They are usually charged for illegal fishing and entry, detained for months while undergoing trial and fined.
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