Duterte orders release of Vietnamese poachers
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the release of 17 to 29 Vietnamese fishermen caught poaching in Philippine waters.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said it was a unilateral order on the part of the President as a sign of goodwill.
“That is goodwill on the part of the President. Importante na maipahatid natin sa Vietnam na we mean well as strategic partner,” he said. Aguirre was part of the delegation that joined Duterte on his working visit in Vietnam.
Aguirre said the cases filed against the Vietnamese fishermen in Sulu and Palawan had been dismissed and the only remaining case was against the 17 poachers caught near Vigan waters.
READ: Fish seized from Vietnamese poachers given out to hospitals, charities
The secretary clarified that Duterte’s order covered only the arrested fishermen.
“It does not give them the freedom to poach in Philippine waters,” he said.
The two countries, Aguirre said, also talked about the West Philippine Sea.
He said the two countries agreed to a concession with regard to the fishing rights in the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands.
“Although may claim ang Vietnam sa Paracels as well as sa Spratlys, magbibigayan na lang dalawang bansa because we are brothers,” Aguirre told reporters at a press conference.
The Paracels and the Spratlys have reserves of natural resources that provide livelihood for people across the region. It is also a major shipping route./rga
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