Philippines assures Vietnam of fair probe on dead fishermen

Philippine Navy crew watch as its new ship named BRP Davao del Sur prepares to dock at Manila's South Harbor for a ceremony to be led by Rear Adm. Gaudencio Collado Jr. commander of the Philippine Fleet Wednesday

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano assured Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh that the five Vietnamese fishermen taken into custody will be accorded proper treatment.

Vietnam is seeking clarification following reports that two of its fishermen died following an altercation with the Philippine Navy on Friday night.

The Philippines vowed to conduct a fair and thorough investigation into a sea chase incident which led to the death of two Vietnamese fishermen last Saturday.

Minh, who also serves as Vietnam's deputy prime minister, reportedly expressed his opposition at the use of force against Vietnamese fishermen.

In a statement on Monday, September 25, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano spoke to Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh during an informal meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in NY.

Manila's response to the illegal fishing activities by the Vietnamese nationals and its description of the incident appear to be in stark contrast with how it handles issues involving Chinese fishermen, who are usually backed by Beijing, in the disputed South China.

Vietnamese fishermen found dead after run-in with Philippine Navy
Measures taken to protect Vietnamese citizens in Philippines

In 2013, the Philippine Coast Guard killed a Taiwanese fisherman spotted in an area where the two countries' exclusive economic zones overlap.

Such zones extend 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) where a coastal state has internationally recognized exclusive rights to fish and exploit other sea resources although foreign ships could pass through. One boat initiated "very unsafe maneuvers that resulted in it slamming into the left front and left center of the Philippine patrol vessel", prompting the ship to fire warning shots, Manila said.

The Filipino navy personnel "followed the rules of engagement, including identification protocol and use of radio and public address system", the official said, adding that the Vietnamese fishing boat was towed to Pangasinan afterward.

Vietnam's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jose Covarrubias said five other Vietnamese fishermen were arrested and are now detained at a police jail in Bolinao, a town on the west coast of the Philippine main Luzon Island.

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