Speaking at the ceremony which was held at Sual Wharf in Pangasinan Province, President Duterte emphasized the importance of Philippine and Vietnam relations and with other countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Duterte also apologized for the stand-off last September that led to the killing of two Vietnamese fishermen in an encounter with the Philippine Navy.
Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte attends the see-off ceremony for five Vietnamese fishermen on November 29. Photo by abs-cbn
“We are one, we are Asians… I am sorry for the incident. I hope it will never happen again… These incidents will not destroy our bond or relations,” Duterte told Vietnamese Ambassador Ly Quoc Tuan at the ceremony.
Ambassador Ly Quoc Tuan expressed his thanks to President Rodrigo R. Duterte and the Philippine Government for supporting and facilitating the release of the five Vietnamese fishermen.
Vietnamese fishing boat PY-96173-TS with seven crew members onboard was chased and shot at by Philippine Navy on September 23. Two members, Le Van Liem and Le Van Reo, were killed by the gunshots while other five, Phan Lam, Phan Net, Nguyen Uan Trong, Nguyen Than Chi, and Pham To were seized with their boat.
The bodies of two crewmen killed in the shooting were brought to Vietnam on October 7.
On September 24, during a meeting with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh voiced protest against the use of violence against fishermen and requested that the Philippines quickly investigates the case.a
Philippine authorities claimed that the Vietnamese fishermen were caught poaching off Bolinao waters in Pangasinan province from 20:30pm on September 22 to 1:00am on September 23 and prevented the chasing by their navy vessel PS 19 and the two members were killed by “miscalculated” warning gunshots fired from Philippine coast guard force