SUAL — President Duterte sent off last Wednesday the five Vietnamese fishermen arrested by the Philippine Navy for poaching in the country’s territorial waters, some 34 nautical miles off Cape Bolinao on September 23 this year.
The President, in his speech at the Sual Wharf before sending off the Vietnamese fishermen back to their country on board their fishing boat, apologized for the deaths of two of their companions during the pursuit operations.
The remains of the two have since been repatriated to their country.
He expressed hope that the incident, the poaching and the deaths of fishermen will not be repeated as this may affect the good relationship between the Philippines and Vietnam.
President Duterte was also in Sual in November last year to send off 17 Vietnamese fishermen who were arrested for poaching off waters of Ilocos Norte.
“We are all ASEANs and we should treat each other as brothers”, the President said.
Gov. Amado Espino III, Fifth District Rep. Amado T. Espino, Jr., Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Z. Calimlim, Jr, and Sual Mayor Roberto Arcinue led Pangasinan officials in welcoming the President who flew in at 4:08 p.m. on board the Presidential chopper that touched down at the Sual Wharf.
BFAR National Director Eduardo Gongona said the fishermen were released for humanitarian reasons being indigents.
The fishermen were detained for more than two months in their fishing boat moored at Sual wharf where they were under watch by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Philippine Coast Guard while their case for poaching was being heard.
The five were identified as Pham Lam, Pham Net, Nguyen Van Trong, Nguyen Than Chi and Cham To, all of whom spoke with the aid of an interpreter.
Ambassador Ly Quoc Tuan thanked President Duterte for sending the five Vietnamese fishermen home, and the people of Sual for taking good care of his countrymen while under detention in their town.
For their trip back home, the Vietnamese fishing boat was loaded by Philippine authorities with fuel, water and provisions that will last for eight days till they reach Vietnam.
A patrol boat of the Philippine Coast Guard escorted the Vietnamese fishermen out of Sual Cove, Lingayen Gulf and out and into the open sea. (Leonardo Micua)