DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 July) — Ten Filipino fishermen detained in Indonesia for illegal fishing, arrived in Davao City at 12 noon Saturday on board the Philippine Navy’s BRP Emilio Jacinto, which came from the second leg of the three-day Coordinated Patrol Philippines-Indonesia in Manado.
Foreign Affairs secretary Norman Garibay told reporters covering the turnover at the Sasa Wharf here that the Philippine government did not encounter difficulty in processing the release of the fishermen as the two nations have maintained a good relationship with Indonesia.
The fishermen from Mindanao were detained from three months to one year, for illegally fishing at the Indonesian territorial waters
“We have a very good relationship with Indonesia,” he said.
He added the Philippine government also plans to reciprocate the gesture of its Indonesian counterpart, as there are also Indonesian fishermen who are detained in the country for similar offenses but “we are just waiting for their consular office to process their documents.”
He said there are around 20 remaining detained Filipino fishermen whose release and repatriation are being processed.
Each repatriated fisherman received from the Department of Social and Welfare Development. four food packs and P6,000 each for transportation assistance back to their homes in Davao Oriental, South Cotabato and Sarangani. Food packs consist of three kilos of rice, two cans of corned beef, two cans of sardines, and two packs of coffee.
“DSWD will take care of them. I think, at the moment, they will be housed in the social welfare’s staff house, where they can stay and then eventually they will be sent home,” added Garibay who expressed hope the repatriated fishermen will not go back to illegal fishing.
The 38-year old Jopher Escobal was excited to return home to Malapatan, Sarangani, after being detained in Indonesia for one year. Escobal’s family had been notified of his release.
Escobal said he was part of a fishing crew that embarked on a fishing expedition across the maritime waters of Indonesia about 15 hours away from Glan, Sarangani last year to catch tuna.
He said they had been fishing there since 2011 until they were caught by the Indonesian Navy in 2018.
Major General Felimon T. Santos, commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, thanked Indonesia for expediting the release of the Filipino fisherfolk just so they could board one of the latest assets of the Philippine Navy for its return trip to Davao. The ship was there for the joint maritime exercises between Philippines and Indonesia from July 23 to 26.
“We took advantage of our navy ship in Manado para pag uwi kasama na natin sil (we could bring them with us on our return trip),” Santos said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)