By Mortz C. Ortigoza
SUAL – Known as lady charmer, the Philippine president grudgingly lauded one of the Vietnamese fishermen who developed an affair with a Filipina when he was in jail in Ilocos Sur.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who led the sent off here of the 17 fishermen, said that Vietnam Ambassador Truong Triey Duong whispered to him that one of the Vietnamese jailed at Vigan City, Ilocos Sur had an affair with a Filipina when he and 15 of his compatriots where locked up there.
The other Vietnamese was a minor thus presumed to be under the watch of the Department of Social Welfare & Development.
“Bumulong iyong ambassador daw. Iyong isa daw dito raw may naka uyab raw ng Filipina. Sino?! Mabilis ito? Iba ang yawa! (The Vietnamese ambassador whispered to me that one of them had an affair with a Filipina. Who is he?! He was fast. This demon is different!), the president declared before the hundreds of amused crowds from the national, regional, and municipal offices of the government who attended the first official visit of the president of the republic in this rustic and coastal town and the province of Pangasinan.
On September 8, the 17 Vietnamese fishermen on board three fishing vessels were arrested by the Philippine Navy off Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
Government authorities filed charges against them like violations of Section 91 of Republic Act No. 10654 or An Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing; violation of Republic Act 8550 as amended by Republic Act 10654 for poaching and CA 613, Section 37 (a)(1) & (7) for entering Philippine waters at Poro Point, La Union without inspection, admission, and in the absence of nine entry visa and record of arrival in the country.
The Philippine authorities however dropped all these charges because it was argued that the fishermen were forced to reach the Philippine waters due to Typhoon Ferdie and the southwest monsoon from the South China Sea. On October 10, the Justice Department issued a memorandum allowing them to return to Vietnam without fine or penalty.
The detainees, whose height were shorter than that of the average Filipinos, have Tran Minh Dung, a Vietnamese interpreter in English sent by their embassy, to translate what they said to the president.
The sent off was a result of President Duterte’s visit in Vietnam last September 28 and 29.
In return for the president’s good will Vietnam promised to maintain the country's rice stock.
But last November 2 President Duterte and his entourage composed of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Presidential Management Staff Secretary Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go,and Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente, where some arrived through five presidential Bell 412 EP helicopters, sent off the Vietnamese on their three vessels docked at the wharf here.
The DSWD gave the Vietnamese provision like food packs that contain rice, vegetables, noodles, canned goods, meat and others that would last for up to ten days. They were also given blocks of ice to maintain freshness of the perishable food, bags containing toiletries and jackets.
Each of the three vessels’ fuel tanks was also filled with 1,000 liters of diesel.
According to a source here, sea travel from the wharf up to Vietnam would take six days.
The three fishing vessels were escorted by a Philippine Navy ship up to 24 nautical miles from shore.
Other luminaries who were seen joining the president were Pangasinan congressmen Leopoldo Bataoil and Jesus Celeste, Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino III, Vice Governor Ferdinand Calimlim and members of the provincial board, Navy, Marine and Army generals and colonels, Region 1 Police Regional Office Director Chief Superintendent Gregorio Pimentel, Pangasinan Police Provincial Office Director Senior Superintendent Ronald Lee, and others.