PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will be here Wednesday afternoon to personally send-off five Vietnamese fishermen arrested by the Philippine Navy two months ago for poaching in Philippine waters off Cape Bolinao, Pangasinan province.
The send-off will be held at the Sual Wharf and CauseWay, to be witnessed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Eduardo Gongona, other ranking government officials, Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines Truong Trieu Duong, Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino III and Sual Mayor Roberto Arcinue.
The fishermen, who are confined in their own boat, are under the custody of the BFAR and the Philippine Coast Guard.
They were sighted off by the Philippine Navy while they were fishing about 34 nautical miles off Cape Bolinao, Pangasinan on September 22, and were apprehended the following day, following a brief chase.
The chase resulted in the death of two of the crew members of the Vietnamese fishing boat when the Philippine Navy fired alleged warning shots.
The remains of the two Vietnamese fishermen were already sent home while the others were facing an investigation.
It will take the Vietnamese fishermen, in their own boat, eight days to reach Vietnam from Sual.
As per Section 91 of Republic Act 10654 or the Amended Fisheries Code, it shall be unlawful for any foreign person, corporation or entity to fish or operate any fishing vessel in Philippine waters.
The BFAR, after an investigation, found that the respondents indeed committed poaching within Philippine waters.
However, in view of humanitarian consideration owing to the indigence of the respondents and the unfortunate death of their crew mates, the BFAR decided that while poaching was committed, the administrative fine will not be imposed.
The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) said that in a bilateral talk between the Philippines and Vietnam during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit held in Vietnam recently, President Duterte agreed to send home the five Vietnamese fishermen the soonest possible time.
President Duterte is expected in Sual to fulfill the promise.
This is the second time the President will come to Sual to send-off fishermen from the same country.
On November 2, 2016, President Duterte also sent home 17 Vietnamese fishermen in the same venue, who were found to have committed poaching in Philippine waters near Ilocos Norte. (PNA)