Domingo Teng, former president of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing Associations and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAAII), the said that the Philippine Consulate in Manado, North Sulawesi province in Indonesia relayed such information to the group last Friday with the assurance that it is doing the necessary actions to facilitate the immediate release of the jailed fishermen.
“We don’t have the exact details yet but the government’s systems are working well, so we expect them be home soon,” he told reporters.
Teng, who was instrumental in the repatriation of hundreds of Filipino fishermen who were jailed in Indonesia and other Asia-Pacific countries, said the 10 detainees in Indonesia are believed to be the last group of fishermen who are still jailed outside the country for fishing-related violations.
He said SFFAAII and the Department of Foreign Affairs’ records showed that all but the 10 present detainees in Indonesia have already been repatriated to the country.
Teng said they were able to convince the Indonesian government to release the detainees for humanitarian reasons during a visit by top Indonesian government officials in the city late last year.
He said the last batch of the freed detainees, which reportedly reached close to 500 during the peak of the arrests several years ago, arrived on Dec. 30 last year.
Aside from Indonesia, a big number of fishermen from this city were arrested and jailed in the past years for illegal fishing activities in Palau and Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Marfenio Tan, SFFAAII president, said their monitoring in Palau and PNG showed that no Filipino fishermen are still languishing in any jail in the two countries.
“We have repatriated them all and our continuous coordination with our counterparts and their governments have prevented the occurrence of illegal fishing violations over last few years,” he said.
He said an earlier move by several local tuna industry players to forge joint venture agreements on tuna fishing and production with their counterparts in Palau, PNG and Indonesia helped stop the problem.
Several local fishing magnates led by Tan, Rodrigo Rivera Sr. of RD Group and the Damalerio family have existing investments in several tuna canneries in Manado and in PNG.