52 fishermen detained in Indonesia arrive in Davao
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – At least 52 Filipino fishermen safely arrived at a naval base in Davao City on Tuesday, June 2, after months of detention in Indonesia for illegal entry and illegal fishing charges.
In a statement, Manado-Philippine consulate officer Ariestotle Florentino said the fishermen were turned over by Indonesian immigration authorities to the consulate last Sunday.
The Philippine consulate, Florentino said, requested the Philippine Navy's BRP Cebu (PS28), which was in Indonesia, to help facilitate the fishermen's journey back home.
The naval forces were coincidentally set to sail back to Davao City after participating at the CORPAT PHILINDO XXIX-15, a joint naval patrol exercise between the Philippines and Indonesia aimed at protecting their common naval border from piracy, banditry, terrorism, and other illegal activities.
"Likewise, said efforts were accomplished in coordination with the Republic of the Philippines Border Committee thru the Eastern Mindanao Command and Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao Command," Florentino said.
Florentino added that the fishermen boarded BRP Cebu at the Navy Base Bitung in Bitung City, North Sulawesi, immediately on the day they were turned over by Indonesian authorities.
"Their age ranges from 19 to 50 years old and mostly come from General Santos City. Said fisherman aboard their respective fishing boats were apprehended by Indonesian authorities for illegal fishing and illegal entry in the Indonesian territorial waters during the past months of this year 2015," Florentino said.
The Philippine consulate said the Filipino fishermen were detained for investigation due to lack of proper documents including fishing license and permits, and identification papers.
The 52 Filipino fishermen also lacked required health certificates to transport fish outside the country, the consulate said.
"They had also spent from 3 weeks to more than 3months in detention at Base Marine Resources and Fisheries (Pengawasan Sumber Daya elautan dan Perikanan-PSDKP) in Bitung City prior being handed over tho the Indonesian Immigration authorities for deportation," Florentino said.
The fishing boats of the arrested fishermen were already destroyed by Indonesian authorities in the waters of Kema, North Minahasa, last May 20.
The Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao Command based in Panacan, Davao City, is processing the fishermen who will be turned over to their respective local government units.
In February, 43 fishermen who were detained in Indonesia for 6 months for illegal fishing charges returned to General Santos City. In May, another 17 fishermen detained in Indonesia were brought home by the Philippine foreign affairs department.
The DFA earlier said it had repatriated 139 Filipino fishermen from Indonesia since January. These fishermen entered Indonesian waters "without proper documentation and permission." – Rappler.com