Duterte on detained fishermen, Veloso: “WE RESPECT YOUR LAWS, BUT WE ASK FOR CLEMENCY”

Duterte on detained fishermen, Veloso

“WE RESPECT YOUR LAWS,
BUT WE ASK FOR CLEMENCY”

By Manny Piñol

Jakarta, Indonesia – President Rody Duterte last night told Indonesian President Joko Widodo that the Philippines respects the laws of Indonesia on Illegal Fishing and Drugs but said he would appeal for clemency for Filipinos who are detained in Indonesian jails.

“We respect your laws and we will not interfere with your judicial processes but we are asking for clemency,” President Duterte told President Widodo during the bilateral meeting at the Istana Merdeka yesterday afternoon.

President Duterte was apparently referring to the 105 Filipino fishermen who were intercepted by the Indonesian Navy in the country’s territorial waters, including the six crew members of two supply ships which were not carrying any fishing gears.

While he did not mention her by name, President Duterte’s appeal for clemency apparently included suspected drug mule Mary Jane Veloso who was earlier sentenced to death by the Indonesian courts.

After the bilateral talks, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. confirmed that the Indonesian government has “indefinitely deferred” the execution of Veloso.

In the case of the fishermen, President Duterte went into details even citing the case of the two supply boats which were intercepted despite prior coordination by the DFA with Indonesian authorities.

A total of 279 Filipinos were actually detained in Indonesian jails on charges of Illegal Fishing but 174 of them were released by the Indonesian Government recently, apparently as a reciprocal gesture to the release of 172 Mecca-bound Indonesians who were arrested in the Philippines for carrying Filipino passports.

Topping the list of Filipino fishing industry workers now detained in Indonesian jails are the crew members of two support vessels whose vessels were stopped even when proper coordination was made by the Dept. of Foreign Affairs with the Indonesian authorities.

Danilo C. Medina, captain of FB Trinity, Rene Perez, captain of LB EBS 04, and their crew members Dionesia Paglinawan, Elito Libay, Danilo Empleo and Gregorio Seroyla were intercepted by the Indonesian Navy while their vessels were passing throughout Indonesian waters enrolee to the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

They have been detained since November 8, 2015.

Their case was brought to my attention by fishing industry officials based in Gen. Santos City who complained that the two boats were merely supply ships and that the crew members have been detained for nine months now.

Upon his arrival in Jakarta Thursday night, I submitted to the President through Sec. Christopher Lawrence Go a memorandum prepared by the team from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources headed by Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona citing the case of the Filipino fishermen.

After the bilateral talks, I personally thanked President Duterte for taking up the cases of the Filipino fishermen to the attention of the Indonesian President.

President Duterte and President Widodo later signed a joint declaration of cooperation in countering Piracy in the seas bordering the Philippines and Indonesia.

They also agreed to help each other in the campaign against drugs which is also a very serious problem in Indonesia.

#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers!

(Photos from my Samsung 6 show President Duterte and President Widodo exchange documents after the signing of the Maritime Security Cooperation and photos of the bilateral talks, the Cabinet Secretaries who joined the talks and my photo with former President Megawati Sukarnoputri.)

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