93 fishers repatriated from Indonesia

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 31 May) – The Indonesian government has repatriated 93 more fishermen from this city and other parts of Mindanao who were earlier jailed due to illegal fishing and immigration violations.

Petty Officer 2 Aldwin Aguila, acting operations officer of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) station here, said Tuesday the fishermen were released from detention and sent home after getting reprieve from their prison terms.

He said the repatriates arrived at the Makar port here around midnight on Sunday from Bitung, Indonesia aboard the Philippine Navy’s BRP Pangasinan or PS-31.

“Most of them were crew members of fishing boats that were caught fishing illegally within Indonesia’s territorial waters,” he told MindaNews.

Aguila said some of the repatriates were arrested and jailed by Indonesian naval personnel after their fishing boats broke down and eventually drifted into its waters.

A number of these fishermen, who spent one to three months in detention, did not carry passports and related documents, he said.

He said the repatriation of the fishermen came after interventions made by the Philippine Consulate in Manado in North Sulawesi and the office of City Mayor Ronnel Rivera.

A report released by PCG here said 45 of the repatriates were from this city, 43 from Sarangani Province, three from Davao Oriental and two from Surigao del Sur.

Upon their arrival here, the repatriates immediately underwent standard documentation processes and given food assistance, Aguila said.

He said the office of Mayor Rivera sent vehicles to ferry the fishermen to their homes and other preferred destinations.

In March, some 154 fishermen were also sent home by Indonesia following negotiations made by the city government and the Philippine Consulate.