43 fishermen repatriated from Indonesia undergo debriefing

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/21 April) — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Region 12 has subjected to stress debriefing the 43 fishermen from this city who were repatriated by Indonesia in February after spending nearly six months in jail due to illegal fishing and violations of immigration laws.

Ofelia Domingo, DOLE Region 12 director, said Tuesday they pushed for the conduct of the therapy sessions to help ease the pain experienced by the fishermen during their detention in Ternate City, Indonesia.

She said the stress debriefing activities, which were completed over the weekend, were facilitated by personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region 12.

“We requested assistance from DSWD-12 for the therapy to help the displaced workers recover from their ordeal,” she said.

Domingo said the move was also aimed to ensure that the 43 fishermen are in good condition as they embark on a P2-million livelihood program initiated by the agency.

DOLE officials released last month a P2,040,000 financial grant to the displaced fishermen for the implementation of a tuna handline fishing project.

The grant, which is under DOLE’s emergency livelihood program, will mainly fund the acquisition of three primary or mother handline fishing boats with four small “pakura” or pump boats each.

The project will be jointly implemented by DOLE-12 and its accredited co-partner Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)-Soccsksargen, which will facilitate the fabrication of the fishing boats and assist their deployment or operations.

The 43 fishermen returned home last Feb. 24, almost six months after they were arrested and detained in Ternate City, North Maluku province in Indonesia.

The fishermen were crew members of fishing boat F/B Love Merben II that was apprehended for illegal fishing on Aug. 26 last year off the coast of eastern Indonesia.

The Maritime Industry Authority listed the boat’s operator as Felisa Abe of Barangay Tambler here but the fishing expedition was financed by local tuna firm Citra Mina Group of Companies.

Aside from the livelihood assistance and the stress debriefing, Domingo said they have launched a mandatory conciliation process through the single entry approach or SENA between the repatriated fishermen and Citra Mina.

The repatriated fishermen had accused Citra Mina of abandonment during their ordeal.

“The process is aimed to resolve the conflict between the fishermen and Citra Mina,” she said.

SENA is an administrative approach “to provide a speedy, impartial, inexpensive and accessible settlement procedure for all issues and complaints arising from employer-employee relations to prevent them from ripening into full blown disputes.”

Under this approach, all labor and employment disputes will undergo a 30-day mandatory conciliation-mediation process to effect settlement among the contending parties.

Domingo said the conciliation process is being facilitated by DOLE-12, National Labor Relations Commission-12 and the National Conciliation and Mediation Board-12.

She said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz earlier issued a directive “to ensure that all means are exhausted” in the conciliation process between the fishermen and Citra Mina. (MindaNews)