PH, Indonesia exchange deal to bring home 100 Pinoy fishers
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Some 100 Filipino fishermen languishing in Indonesian jails are expected to be freed soon to reciprocate President Duterte’s decision to drop charges against a group of Indonesians intercepted using Filipino passports for the hajj, an official has said.
The 177 Indonesians had been arrested at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. But 700 others managed to travel to Saudi Arabia using fake Filipino documents and were expected to land here by the end of the month, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.
“The good thing (is), 700 more Indonesians in Mecca using Philippine passports are coming back to Manila and they will be issued Indonesian passports,” Piñol said on Monday. “The President (Duterte) said he will not file charges in the spirit of brotherhood.”
“I hope this gesture of the President (Duterte) would be reciprocated by (Indonesian President Joko) Widodo,” Piñol, who visited Barangay Culianan here, added.
He said 105 Filipinos had been detained in Indonesia for a long time for allegedly straying in Indonesian waters. Most of them were from Mindanao.
“Six of the 105 were not actually fishermen but on board two supply ships to deliver supplies to their fishermen and their movement was coordinated, they did not violate anything, but still they were arrested by the Indonesian Navy,” Piñol said.
He said the detained Filipinos’ conditions in detention remained unknown with Indonesia barring access to them.
Last week, 174 fishermen were repatriated from Bitung City in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and arrived here. They were immediately assisted by the Davao City government.
The fishermen were from General Santos City, Sarangani; Bayugan in Agusan del Sur; Negros Occidental; and Iloilo, and spent between two to three years in Indonesian jails for illegal fishing, officials said.
Jefry Tupas, the Davao City information officer, said a team from the City Health Office (CHO) examined the deportees for signs of serious communicable diseases.
“Most of them had bruises, boils, fever and cough, probably acquired while they were in detention and aggravated by their three-day sea voyage,” Tupas said.
But Dr. Josephine Villafuerte, the CHO head, said none of the 174 fishermen suffered from any dangerous infections, and subsequently cleared them.
Tupas said the city social welfare office had already facilitated the return of the repatriated fishermen to their respective homes. Julie Alipala and Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao
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