SUAL, Pangasinan — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte personally sent off 17 Vietnamese fishermen who were arrested for alleged poaching in the coastal waters of Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur last September 8 in a ceremony at the Port of Sual here at past 4:00 p.m. Wednesday.
The Vietnamese, who were brought to Sual pending the disposition of cases filed against them before the Prosecutor’s Office in Ilocos Sur, were given warm send off by the President and senior officials of the Philippine government as well as provincial and municipal officials, and the people of Sual led by their Mayor Roberto Sual.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morete, who was among those who sent off the Vietnamese, said the fishers were on board three fishing boats that were intercepted by the Philippine Navy when they entered the Philippine waters but did this only to seek shelter from the rough waters spawned by Typhoon “Ferdie” during that time and the strong monsoon winds that followed.
Commissioner Morete said the Vietnamese were offered Philippine Airlines tickets for their trip back to their country but opted to go home aboard their three fishing boats.
Only 16 of them were charged with violation of Section 91 of Republic Act 10654 before the Provincial Prosecutors’ Office of Ilocos Sur as the 17th arrested was a minor.
However, the case filed against them were dismissed after investigators found that the Vietnamese had no intent to violate Philippine laws.
Some of the fishers were identified as Tran Huu Trong; Bui Van Liem; Nguyen Van Phuong; Dien Thien Son; Le Tien, Tran Hu Phuc; and Hyun Than Trung.
The send off was also attended by the Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines Troung Trieu Duomg who said the release of his countrymen was part of the agreement forged by President Duterte and his own President when the Philippine President made a statement visit to his country three weeks ago.
Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo assisted President Duterte in giving provisions to the Vietnamese for their travel back to their country, that included toiletries such as soap and toothpaste, coffee, sugar and food including rice, vegetables, and beef, which were loaded to their boats. After being sent off by the President, the Vietnamese vessels were escorted up to the Philippine boundary in the west Philippine sea.
One of their boats had a streamer which read: “Thank you, President Duterte”. Leonardo Micua/PNAnorthboundasia.com