Vietnamese Fisherman thank Duterte for release

After almost two months, the 17 Vietnamese fishermen finally released presided by the President Rodrigo Duterte in Sual Sea Wharf Pangasinan, November 2.

Vietnamese Fisherman thank Duterte
Photo by Robinson Niñal/Presidential Photo

"We are thankful to President Duterte and the rest of the Filipino people for allowing us to return home to Vietnam," said one of the fishermen, Pham Huu Tuy, through an interpreter

On September 8, the Northern Luzon Navy caught the off the coast of Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur and been accused of poaching in Philippine waters.

A complaint was filed by the Ilocos Sur provincial government and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region I against the fishermen for violating the amended Republic Act 10654 or Fisherman Code.

The 17 Vietnamese was also charged by the Bureau of Immigration for illegal entry.

Vietnamese government countered argument that the fishermen were only driven to Philippine waters due to bad weather during the approach of Typhoon Ferdie (Meranti) to the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

"We were fishing north of Vietnam when incidentally we were hit with bad weather. This made us enter Philippine waters," said Pham, one of the fishermen.

During the President’s visit to Vietnam, President Dai Quang made an appeal to President Duterte to allow a total of 29 Vietnamese to return home.

Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II announced to the media he had ordered an immediate release of the 17 Vietnames fishermen on September 30, right after Duterte’s visit to the said country.

The Philippine government called it “an act of goodwill.”

The case was dropped on October 27 through a legislative measure of the Ilocos Sur provincial government saying “there was no intention on the Vietnamese fishers’ part to violate the Fisheries Code.

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The central BFAR office dismissed the administrative case filed by its Region I office.

Upon conduct of investigation, BFAR dismissed the deportation charge against the Vietnamese nationalities on the ground that they were acting in good faith and no deliberate intention to violate Philippine laws.

The Department of Justice issued a memorandum on October 10 allowing these men to return in their homeland "without being blacklisted nor subjected to any fine or penalty."

Meanwhile, during the release, Duterte quoted in his speech “I'd like to send off our good friends.”

Duterte also gave the Vietnamese nationals a vegetables, hygiene kits, liters of diesel, cavans of rice, instant noodles, and repellant jackets for their journey in returning to their home.

[Source: Rappler]