Philippines releases five Vietnamese poachers
The Philippine government has released five Vietnamese fishermen who were caught poaching inside Philippine waters last September.
President Rodrigo Duterte led the send-off ceremony of the Vietnamese in Sual, Pangasinan where the fishing vessel and materials were also released to the fishermen. Poaching charges against them were dropped.
"We are one. We are Asians. I'm sorry for the incident. I hope it will never happen again. But this incident will not destroy our bond of relationship. Very strong," Duterte said in a speech.
He was referring to the death of the two other Vietnamese fishermen who were with the five when a Philippine Navy vessel pursued them off Pangasinan.
Duterte said similar incident might not be avoided in the future.
But if it would happen again, he said the Vietnamese ambassador could call him personally and he would also do the same with the Vietnamese president.
"Let us shorten the period that they (fishermen) are being out of the country for so long. As a matter of course, of arrangement and we will be willing to talk anytime," he told Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines Ly Quoc Tuan who was present.
The envoy thanked Duterte and the government for releasing the fishermen.
He said the return of his people to Vietnam was very significant because in late January 2018 his country observes "family reunion occasion." Celerina Monte/DMS