Duterte frees 17 Vietnamese fishermen

PANGASINAN -- President Rodrigo Duterte led Wednesday the release of 17 Vietnamese fishermen here at the Sual Sea Wharf and Causeway Area to return to their country after entering the Philippine waters.

In his keynote speech, Duterte expressed gratitude that he was able to officiate the send-off for the arrested Vietnamese fishermen.

"I am very happy to send our fellow human beings here. That's the most important among all others," the President said.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, who was also present on the send-off, wished the Vietnamese nationals a "safe trip" as they go back to Vietnam.

"I bid our 17 fishermen good luck and Godspeed on their journey home. We wish you a happy reunion with your families and friends," Taguiwalo said.




Speaking to reporters here, Vietnamese interpreter Tran Minh Dung explained that the ships of the Vietnamese fisherfolk were windswept because of the typhoon.

On September 18, 17 Vietnamese nationals onboard three fishing vessels were arrested in Vigan, Ilocos Sur for fishing in the Philippine territorial waters.

According to the letter by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), the sendoff was held at the Sual Sea Wharf and Causeway Area in Pangasinan because of "economic and practical reasons since the fishermen and the three fishing vessels are already in Sual, Pangasinan."

The arrested Vietnamese fishermen were Tran Huu Trung, Bui Vian Liem, Nguyen Van Phuong, Nguyen Gio, Din Thien Son, Le Tien, Vo An, Vo Thien, Tran Huu Phuc, Huynh Thanh Thang, Le Thanh Trung, Nguyen Duy Cuong, Bui Vam Luom, Pham, Huu Tuy, Tran Hoang Kim, Hyunh Ngoc Tuan, and Do Thien Loi.

They faced cases for the violation of Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing; violation for "poaching," and violation for entering the Philippine waters without inspection, admission, and in the absence of a nine-entry visa.

The Embassy of Vietnam wrote the BI on October 17, requesting the Duterte administration to allow the Vietnamese fishermen's vessels to board and provide all the necessary supplies for their safe return to Vietnam.

Following considerations, the Philippine government issued a joint resolution giving the 17 Vietnamese nationals a clearance to return to Vietnam.

The President distributed tokens to the Vietnamese fishermen before sending them off.

They were given water-resistant jackets, rice, vegetables, fuel and hygiene kits among others. (Sunnex)
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