By Roy Mabasa
The Philippine government has recommended several measures to prevent the apprehension of Filipinos in Indonesia for illegal fishing.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Consulate General in Manado, Indonesia has recommended that a massive information, education and communication campaign with Filipino fishing boat owners as target audience concerning the strict implementation by the Indonesian government’s anti-illegal fishing policy must be conducted.
It was further suggested that fishing boat owners should be held responsible in notifying the Consulate General upon receipt of reports of apprehension of their fishing boats and detention of their fishermen-crew members.
Boat owners must also be encouraged to extend financial assistance to immediate families of their fishermen-crew while in detention in Indonesia, and in the case where illegal fishing charges are brought against their boat captains, boat owners should be liable in providing immediate legal and translation services during investigation, prosecution and trial stages.
Likewise, the Consulate General has recommended that an interagency meeting be conducted among Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies, such as Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine Coast Guard (PSG) and local government units (LGUs) to review and implement the Fisheries Code, including delisting of apprehended Philippine-flagged boats guilty of illegal fishing and imposing administrative fines and penalties on boat owners who abandon their fishermen-crew.
From January 2018 to present, Post has repatriated a total of 61 distressed Filipino fishermen mostly residents of Davao City and General Santos City.
This week, the Philippine Consulate General in Manado, Indonesia, in collaboration with the Armed Forces of the Philippines/Naval Fleet Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), repatriated 31 Filipinos aboard a Philippine Navy ship BRP Davao del Sur.
The boat sailed off from the Indonesian Navy wharf in Bitung this morning and will arrive at the Sasa Port in Davao City on April 21.
The repatriation was undertaken in coordination with the Ministry of Law and Human Rights in North Sulawesi, Immigration Offices in Bitung, Tarakan, Balikpapan, and Manado.
Eight among the 31 Filipinos were boat captains apprehended for illegal fishing who served prison sentence, 10 were drifters, while 13 were apprehended for illegal entry/overstaying.
During said repatriation, Bpk. Dodi Karnida, head of Immigration Office in North Sulawesi, Ministry of Law and Human Rights headed the 28 immigration officers from Bitung, Manado, Ambon, Balikpapan, and Tarakan to facilitate the repatriation process and issue their exit permits.
During the interview with Bpk. Dodi by Radio Republik Indonesia, he said the repatriation of the 31 detainees from Philippines was successfully conducted. The said detainees entered Indonesia through Talaud, Marore, and Miangas illegally.
He added that Filipinos are welcomed to enter Indonesia provided that they have with them the complete legal documents to avoid illegal entry and overstaying cases. Lastly, he thanked the consulate general in Manado for its cooperation and collaboration with the Indonesian Immigration Offices making the repatriation possible.
The said repatriation is the third conducted by the Philippine consulate general in Manado since 2016 aboard a Philippine Navy Ship and with the help of the Philippine Air Force.