Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said the repatriation of Filipino fishermen detained by Indonesian authorities will be taken up by President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo when the two presidents meet in a meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers and leaders next week.
The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will continue working on the repatriation of 46 Filipino fishermen, who are still being held in Indonesia for alleged encroachment into Indonesian waters, Go said.
Go made the assurance following the arrival of 31 repatriated Filipinos in Davao City on Friday.
Go said the President and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano will discuss on how to fast-track the repatriation of the detained 46 fishermen and if there is a need to issue travel documents to them.
“The Duterte administration is very committed to provide repatriation assistance to distressed Filipinos overseas,” Go assured.
Go said there must be a way that the apprehension of Filipino fishermen could be avoided if they obtain proper documents.
Go said many fishermen were arrested when they crossed because they could not present proper documentation.
Go, who represented the President in welcoming and giving aid to the repatriated Filipinos on Friday, said it is not easy to be away with families for a long time.
He said some of the Filipinos have been detained there for three to six months, with one spending three years in detention.
Go said the process in expediting the repatriation of apprehended or stranded fishermen will be discussed with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The 31 repatriated Filipinos from Manado, Indonesia were able to go back to their respective places of origin.
Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM) Public Affairs Officer Ensign Aileen Jansor earlier said the 31 Filipino repatriates were successfully turned over onboard the BRP Lapu-Lapu of the Department of Agriculture- Bureau of Fisheries and Natural Resources (DA-BFAR) near Glan, Sarangani Province and were carried back to Davao City.
The 31 repatriates were overstaying Filipinos, others were apprehended for allegedly encroaching into Indonesian waters while some were rescued from a distressed vessel sailing beyond the border area of the Philippines.
Jansor said the turnover of the repatriates was held following the successful conduct of the Maritime Law Enforcement Exercise together with the BRP Tubbataha of the Philippine Coast Guard in connection with the Coordinated Patrol Philippine Indonesia (Corpat PhilIndo), which is part of the annual coordinated border patrol operations between the two countries.
The coordinated patrol operations were spearheaded by the Eastern Mindanao Command through the Philippine Navy in cooperation with the Philippine Consulate General in Manado, Indonesia.
According to Jansor, the successful repatriation was a result of collaborative and continued efforts of the Philippines Border Committee and the Eastmincom. (PNA)