25 fishermen from Surigao jailed in Indonesia

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 6 Jan) – Twenty-five fishermen from this city are now languishing in jail in Indonesia due to illegal fishing, according to two barangay chairmen.

Josselyn Mantilla, of Barangay Sabang, said Tuesday that 15 of the 25 are her constituents. The remaining 10 are from Barangay San Juan, said barangay chairman Monina Caluna.

Mantilla said the fishermen, all aboard MB RGJ Fishing, left Surigao on Nov. 25.

The boat’s operator, listed by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA)-Caraga as Gemma V. Navarro of Barangay Togbongon here, reportedly has no permit to fish in Indonesian waters.

Mantilla said she was informed of the fishermen’s condition by the wives, who sought any help they could get to sustain their daily needs.

She said the fishermen were caught Dec. 7 by patrolling coast guards off Indonesia. Authorities reportedly detained the fishermen, who also lacked travel documents, in Sorong City of West Papua province.

The fishermen, who are now detained at the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in Sorong, are Rodrigo T. Puno, captain of the boat; Jarewel R. Perjesa, machinist; and crew members Cristobal T. Ilagan, Romeo A. Edradan, Edgar T. Gecozo, Ronald D. Buniel, Richard T. Cabero, Ruel C. Astronomo, Junnie A. Calundre, Joseph A. Calundre, Teresito S. Macabasag, Ronel J. Escultor, Roel D. Cabating, Alan B. Gucela, Jaime M. Govalanie, Homer C. Etac, Mansueto M. Abrao, Teodoro C. Dayagro Jr., Rolly D. Cabating, Rolando D. Bornea, Leopoldo C. Dadivas Jr., Efren C. Escultor, Nelson A. Arsaga, Jose R. Perjes and Max B. Gucela.

Mantilla said the boat captain and machinist are in shackles to ensure they could not escape.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the region, PNP-Maritime 13, the Philippine Coast Guard and MARINA-13 have no reports yet on the incident which checked by MindaNews as of press time.

Geoffrey Gervo, station commander of the Coast Guard here, said they are still checking the documents of the boat. “We are checking documents if they sought clearance to us before they sailed,” he said.

Caluna said they got wind of the fishermen’s plight after several of their relatives sought her office’s assistance.

She said she referred the case to Rep. Guillermo A. Romarate Jr., who shelled out money for the fishermen’s fare on their way home.

Caluna said Romarate sought the intervention of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through its consulate in Indonesia, for the repatriation of the jailed fishermen.

She said she issued certificates that the fishermen were indigents so their families could get help from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

MindaNews sent an email inquiry to Charles C. Jose, spokesperson of the DFA, as well as to the Philippine Consulate in Manado, Indonesia on Wednesday morning, but there was nor response yet as of this writing.