SUBIC, Philippines—The seven Vietnamese fishermen, who were sued for poaching in this town’s waters in April, are facing deportation after a local court ordered their transfer to the National Committee on Illegal Entrants (NCIE) on Monday.
Reynante Lagasca, immigration officer at the Bureau of Immigration’s field office in Olongapo City, said the Vietnamese fishermen would be deported “in all probability” after Judge Josefina Farrales of the Regional Trial Court Branch 69 in Iba town in Zambales province found them “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of poaching.
Lagasca said the fishermen have been placed in the custody of the Central Luzon regional office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Pampanga province.
Farrales ordered the release of the seven fishermen and directed the BFAR regional office to turn them over to the NCIE within 10 days.
The Vietnamese fishermen were identified as Phan Minh Ouoc, Le Van Muoi, Nguyen Van Tu, Nguyen Binh, Truong Van Luan, Ngo Van Tuan and Tran Ngoc Duc.
In her order, Farrales said the fishermen initially pleaded innocent but changed their plea through their lawyer.
She said the Vietnamese, through an interpreter, informed the court they were aware of the consequences of their guilty plea.
Vietnamese Embassy Consul Hoang Nghia Cang was informed about the charges against the fishermen and did not raise any objections, Farrales said.
The court fined the fishermen $100,000.
Personnel of BFAR and the Philippine Coast Guard arrested the Vietnamese fishermen on April 28 when they saw the foreigners’ vessel some 16 nautical miles (29 kilometers) from Subic town.
Authorities also found at least 40 kg of tuna and 100 kg of squid in the Vietnamese fishermen’s boat when they inspected it.