Ten Filipino fishermen who were caught illegally fishing by Indonesian authorities in their waters arrived in Davao City on Saturday noon, aboard the BRP Emilio Jacinto.
The fishermen, who faced cases of illegal fishing, poaching, smuggling and illegal entry in Indonesia, were released through the efforts of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Liaison in Manado, Indonesia.
Foreign Affairs’ Uriel Norman Garibay who was present during the turnover of the fishermen at the Sasa Wharf in Davao said that many of the fishermen who were released had been detention in Indonesia from three months to one year.
He said that the Philippine government was able to easily process the release of the fishermen because the Philippines and Indonesia have a “very good relationship.”
Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., commander of Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) and the chairman of the border committee of the Philippines, said the rescue of the fishermen became more possible since the BRP Emilio Jacinto was in Indonesian waters last July 17-24 for the second leg of the Coordinated Patrol of Philippines-Indonesia (CORPAT PHILINDO).
“We took advantage of the presence of our vessel in Indonesia to rescue these 10 distressed Filipino fishermen,” he said.
The Philippines and Indonesia have been increasing their coordinated border patrol activities this year. The first leg of the coordinated border patrol happened in May.
“The coordinated naval operations we are conducting strengthens our relation with Indonesia and boost our security effort in securing the border,” Santos said.
Garibay said that the Philippine government is also thinking of returning the goodwill gesture of Indonesia by releasing detained Indonesia fishermen caught fishing in Philippine waters.
“We are just waiting for their consular office to process their documents.”
Garibay said that at least 20 more Filipino fishermen are still detained in Indonesia. Their repatriation is also being procecessed.
“We are just happy that the Indonesian government fast tracked the papers of these Filipinos and we are looking forward to the repatriation of those who are left,” he said.
The repatriated fishermen will get four food packs and P6,000 each as transportation assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The fishermen hailed from Davao Oriental and South Cotabato.
(with a Philippine News Agency report)