Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana would rather go soft on Vietnamese nationals illegally fishing in Philippine waters, saying the Philippine government should just let them go back home than arrest them.
"Just tell them to go back to their area. Huwag na natin silang hulihin," the Department of National Defense (DND) chief told reporters in Clark, Pampanga.
"Sakit ng ulo eh. Hulihin mo yan, dalhin mo 'yan sa ano, pakainin mo pa, pa-ospital mo pa tapos pag-uwi, hingi pa ng gasolina. Pauwiin mo na lang sila 'dun," he added.
Apart from the possible expense, Lorenzana pointed out that fishermen may not easily be aware they are already trespassing.
He added that Filipino fishermen who find themselves in foreign waters should be given the same treatment, as fishing boats are not known to be equipped with GPS.
"So kung meron tayong makikita diyan, just warn them 'you are in Philippine waters, please go back to your area.' In like manner, kung andun naman sa kanila 'yung fishermen natin, just tell them to go back. kasi hindi naman alam ng fisherman kung ano eh, wala naman silang GPS," Lorenzana said.
The Defense secretary made the statement following recent reports of Filipino fishermen being harassed by foreigners in the West Philippine Sea.
Nevertheless, Lorenzana said they are taking up the matter with parties concerned.
"They’re very responsive. Kasi ang sabi namin, these fishermen are not actually very rich people. They’re actually just poor fishermen trying to earn a living so huwag na natin silang pahirapan," he said. — Margaret Claire Layug/MDM, GMA News