GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 December) — Indonesia has repatriated 40 more fishermen from this city and the neighboring areas who were earlier jailed in North Sulawesi province for violating its fishing and immigration laws.
City Councilor Ronnel Rivera said the repatriates arrived at the RD Fishing Industries Inc. (RDFI) wharf here on Monday night aboard fishing vessel KM Pacifik 102 from Manado in North Sulawesi.
The repatriates were immediately turned over to the Philippine Coast Guard and City Social Welfare and Development Office personnel for proper documentation.
Rivera said the repatriation was facilitated by the Philippine Consulate in Manado in close coordination with staff members of the Ronnel C. Rivera Foundation Inc. and RDFI.
Rivera said the Indonesian government ordered the repatriation of the fishermen after getting reprieve from their jail sentences.
“Most of them were undocumented crew members of fishing boats that were earlier caught fishing within Indonesia’s territorial waters,” he said.
The repatriated fishermen, who mostly came from this city and nearby Sarangani Province, were former employees of fishing companies based in the city.
Rivera, who is vice president of the RDFI’s mother firm RD Group of Companies, said they initially held orientation sessions with the repatriates to determine their immediate needs and possible assistance
that the foundation may offer.
“We oriented them and assessed how we can further help them out,” the official said.
Rivera reiterated that his office is continually coordinating with officials of the Philippine Consulate in Manado for the release and repatriation of more Filipino fishermen from Indonesia.
Since last year, the city councilor’s foundation already facilitated the return of around 200 fishermen who were imprisoned in various jails in North Sulawesi province in Indonesia.
Through the RCR Foundation, some of the previous repatriates had received training scholarships and livelihood assistance.
The foundation had tied up with the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority to provide skills training and certification to the repatriates. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)