Vietnamese ‘poachers’ freed soon, Duterte vows
DA NANG, Vietnam—President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday vowed to release all Vietnamese fishermen who were caught poaching in Philippine waters during his bilateral meeting with Vietnamese President Trần Đại Quang here.
Speaking to reporters, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the Philippines would be trying to effect their release “before the end of the month.”
Last Aug. 8, 10 Vietnamese fishermen were arrested for alleged poaching in Philippine waters after the Philippine Navy sighted a fishing vessel which had no Automatic Identification System signature.
Also to be released were the five surviving crew members of a fishing boat caught some 34 nautical miles from the town of Bolinao in Pangasinan last Sept. 23.
The President also extended his deepest condolences to the families of the abducted Vietnamese seafarers, who were killed before getting abducted from the bulker Giang Hai.
Tran, meanwhile, vowed to provide 200 metric tons of rice as part of humanitarian efforts to rebuild war-torn Marawi City.
Both leaders also agreed to resolve the ongoing sea row in the West Philippine Sea, in accordance with the UN Convention on the law of the Sea.
“They look forward to progress of Asean mechanisms on code of conduct for South China Sea,” Roque added.
Meanwhile, during Duterte’s meeting with Peter O’Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Duterte vowed Philippine assistance on its effort to plant rice and help in achieving food security.
“The President said that the Philippines will help Papua New Guinea on how to start planting rice … through the International Rice Research Institute,” Roque said.
“Rice has been always a staple food in Papua New Guinea but they don’t have the experience or capacity in planting,” he added.
Duterte likewise thanked O’Neill for hosting the 35,000 migrant workers living in their country.
The President’s spokesman said that Papua New Guinea would be “very fair” in its tuna trade.
In 2016, Papua New Guinea announced several measures for its tuna industry, wherein those caught in the archipelagic waters of PNG must then be processed on the island.