9 of 25 Surigao fishermen languishing in Indonesian jail are ill

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 Jan) – Nine of the 25 fishermen from this city who are languishing in jail in Indonesia are ill, according to their boat captain.

Rodrigo Puno, boat captain of MB/RGJ Fishing, told MindaNews Wednesday afternoon via long distance telephone that eight of his crew are having fever and one is suffering from malaria.

The fishermen, who are residents of the coastal villages of Sabang and San Juan here, sailed on Nov. 25 and were apprehended in Indonesian waters on Dec. 8 (not November 7 as earlier reported) allegedly for illegal fishing.

Aside from them, another group of 35 fishermen from General Santos were also apprehended and jailed in Indonesia on the same day.

Puno admitted that they have no permit to fish in Indonesian waters. He said they were tempted to fish in the area because it has a lot of fish.

Puno said their fishing expedition in the same area last September yielded them about P1.2 million.

The fishermen, who are now detained at the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in Sorong City of West Papua province, 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.

The boat’s operator listed in the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA)-Caraga is Gemma V. Navarro of Barangay Togbongon here.

Navarro, in an interview Wednesday afternoon, claimed she has no idea that her fishermen ventured in Indonesian waters. “I was surprised to know that they are in Indonesia. I never told them to fish in the area,” she said.

Navarro said she went to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) last Dec. 14 and was able to speak to Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, who is from Surigao City. Quoting Seguis, she said there is repatriation process which usually takes from six months up to six years.

Navarro said her fishing boat, which is about a year old, cost P3.5 million. She said Seguis told her it was impossible to get back the boat.

Navarro prays that her fishermen will be able to get back soonest so they could reunite with their families.

“I’m appealing to the DFA officials and officials of the Indonesia to fast-track their repatriation,” she said.

Navarro said at the time they were arrested her fishermen already caught at least 300 big tunas, including yellowfin.

She said the fishermen were on their way back when apprehended by patrolling Indonesian coast guards, who confiscated their catch.