President Rodrigo Duterte led the ceremonial send-off of some 17 Vietnamese fishermen in Sual, Pangasinan on Wednesday, November 2.
“I am very happy that I’m here to send off my fellow human being,” Duterte said during the send-off ceremony, as he added that one thing common among Southeast Asian nations is the importance of dignity and self-respect.
The Vietnamese fishermen entered Philippine waters during the height of typhoon “Ferdie” in September.
The President said it was the Vietnamese government who have asked for the release of the Vietnamese fishermen during his visit to Vietnam in September.
He said the Vietnamese fishermen were released after their papers were processed.
“Kaya ako dito nung nalaman ko sila, sabi ko, no problem Mr. President, I’ll do my best to expedite. But you know, there are some procedures,” Duterte said.
The President underscored that the Philippines places importance to its relationship with its Southeast Asian neighbors. Both the Philippines and Vietnam are members of the 10-member bloc ASEAN.
“The Orientals have this respect for another fellow human being kaya tayo ganun,” he added.
“Ang pagtingin kasi natin, malalim ang tama natin sa relihiyon, sa respeto, our fellow human being. ‘Yun talaga ang ano sa atin. Maski na anong nationality, whether they be Chinese, Vietnamese or Americans, we do it with almost utmost respect even if he’s really a prisoner or whatnot,” Duterte said.
The President meanwhile said it is the country’s neighbors who give a helping hand in times of need, particularly in his administration’s fight against drugs.
“Alam mo, nandito na tayo sa narco-politics. That is why we have to ask help from everybody, including our neighbors,” Duterte said.
“We have to be nice and diplomatic. For one, we are a Christian country. And second is that talagang we help each other,” he added.
It was President Duterte who personally signaled for the fishermen to board their ships and also handed their travel documents which formally released them from the custody of the Philippine government.
For his part, Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines Truong Trieu Duong expressed gratitude to President Duterte.
“We, the Vietnamese people, especially the fishermen… will forever be in debt for the goodwill, the kind and humanitarian gesture, by you, Mr. President, and the Filipino people,” the Vietnamese envoy said.
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo meanwhile said President Duterte has ordered that the fishermen be provided with their basic necessities for humanitarian assistance. PND