DETAINED FISHERMEN'S PLIGHT REFERRED TO PRES. DUTERTE

Jakarta, Indonesia - The plight of 105 Filipinos now detained in Indonesian jails has been referred to President Rody Duterte for possible inclusion in his discussion with Indonesian President Joko Widodo during their talks today.

President Duterte, who arrived in Jakarta at about 9 p.m. from the ASEAN Summit in Vientianne, Laos, was given a briefer last night on the fishermen's plight in a memorandum which was prepared by the Dept. of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

A total of 279 Filipinos were actually detained in Indonesian jails on charges of Illegal Fishing but 174 of them were released by the Indonesian Government recently, apparently as a reciprocal gesture to the release of 172 Mecca-bound Indonesians who were arrested in the Philippines for carrying Filipino passports.

In my first foreign trip since I was appointed Secretary of Agriculture, I brought with him a 5-man staff, including Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona of BFAR, BFAR Asst. Director Druz Bayate, DA-BFAR lawyer Annie Vitug and Agriculture Attache Anna Abejuela.

Topping the list of Filipino fishing industry workers now detained in Indonesian jails are the crew members of two support vessels whose vessels were stopped even when proper coordination was made by the Dept. of Foreign Affairs with the Indonesian authorities.

Danilo C. Medina, captain of FB Trinity, Rene Perez, captain of LB EBS 04, and their crew members Dionesia Paglinawan, Elito Libay, Danilo Empleo and Gregorio Seroyla were intercepted by the Indonesian Navy while their vessels were passing throughout Indonesian waters enrolee to the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

They have been detained since November 8, 2015 even when their travel through the Indonesian waters was made with proper coordination and in spite of the fact that their boats were merely supply boats and did not carry fishing gears.

In the memorandum I submitted to President Duterte through Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, Special Executive Asst. to the President, I also asked that the fate of 99 other Filipino fishermen detained in Bitung and Manado on charges of Illegal Fishing be included in his discussions with President Widodo.

Given the fact that charges have been filed against the 99, it was suggested that the Philippine government would only ask for the expeditious resolution of the cases.

In my meeting with Dept. of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., last night, I also brought up the issue of the Filipino Consular Officers' inability to visit the detained Filipino fishermen despite the 2014 Agreement on Consular Affairs.

The bilateral talks which will be held at the Indonesian Presidential Palace Istana today are expected to achieve positive results to strengthen the relationships between Filipinos and Indonesians who both belong to the Malay race.



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