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Duterte sends off 17 Vietnamese fishermen arrested for alleged poaching in PHL waters 

SUAL, Pangasinan – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday led the sending off of 17 Vietnamese fishermen here. 

"I am happy to send off my fellow human beings," Duterte said in a speech before the ceremonial send off. 

The Vietnamese fishermen released were as follows: 

  • Tran Huu Trung
  • Bui Van Liem
  • Nguyen Van Phuong
  • Nguyen Gio 
  • Dinh Thien Son
  • Le Tien
  • Vo An 
  • Vo Thien 
  • Tran Huu Phuc 
  • Huynh Thanh Thang 
  • Le Thanh Trung
  • Nguyen Duy Cuong
  • Bui Van Luom 
  • Pham Huu Tuy 
  • Tran Hoang Kim
  • Huynh Ngoc Tuan 

A minor is also included on the list. 

According to Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, the Vietnamese fishermen were given provisions for their trip as ordered by the President. 

"Instructions iyon ni President. A month ago, pinahanda na kami," she told GMA News Online. 

DSWD Region I Director Jun Castillo said that the provisions included food packs, canned goods, rice, bottled water, and hygiene kits good for 10 days. 

Taguiwalo added that DSWD also distributed malong and mosquito nets. 


Two of the three Vietnames fishing boats with 17 crew seized by the Philippine Coast Guard prepare to sail off from Sual, Pangasinan on Wednesday, November 2, 2016, after President Rodrigo Duterte allowed their repatriation back to Vietnam. Trisha Macas

Charges dropped

The 17 Vietnamese fishermen on board three fishing vessels were arrested by the Philippine Navy off Vigan, Ilocos Sur on September 8.

Charges against them were violation of Section 91 of Republic Act No. 10654 or An Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing; violation of RA 8550 as amended by RA 10654 for poaching; and violation of CA 613, Section 37 (a)(1) & (7) for entering Philippine waters at Poro Point, La Union without inspection, admission, and in the absence of nine entry visa and record of arrival in the country. 

All three charges against them were dropped, as it was argued that the fishermen were forced to reach the Philippine waters due to Typhoon Ferdie and the southwest monsoon from the South China Sea.

On October 10, the Justice Department issued a memorandum allowing the fishermen to return to Vietnam without fine or penalty. They were also not blacklisted. 

On October 24, a joint resolution issued by concerned agencies cleared the 17 Vietnamese fishermen to sail for their home country on board their three fishing vessels.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morante in his short brief said they were supposed to go home via Philippine Airlines but they chose to sail using their fishing vessels instead. 

After his trip to Vietnam on September 28 to 29, Duterte ordered Justice Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II to expedite the release of all Vietnamese fishermen caught poaching in Philippine waters.

Aguirre said the release would be an act of goodwill on the part of the Philippines. In return, Vietnam vowed to help maintain the country's rice stock. But Aguirre also stressed that the Philippine government would not tolerate poaching or other illegal activities in its waters. 

Aside from Taguiwalo and Morante, Duterte was joined by Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, and local government officials during the send off. 

The Vietnamese fishermen waved back at Duterte and the government officials when they boarded their vessels. The Philippine Navy was expected to escort them until 24 nautical miles off Philippine land. — RSJ, GMA News