As many as 124 Vietnamese fishermen on seven fishing boats from the southeastern province of Binh Thuan have been stuck in the Philippines for the last 10 days, Thanh Nien has learnt.
Truong Thi Hoa of Phu Quy District told Thanh Nien via telephone that her husband, Pham Hong, the captain of one of the seven boats, called home July 9 saying the boats were seized by the Philippine marine police.
The boats arrived in the Philippines under contracts with Ho Chi Minh City-based Long Hai Company, which said the fishermen will go fishing off the Philippine waters and later sell the catch in the country.
When the fishermen docked at a Filipino port to unload the fish they caught, local police told them that their papers were not legal under the laws of the Philippines.
The police ordered Vietnamese fishermen to pay a fine of US$12,000, failing which they would be jailed.
The fishermen are treated well by the police but food and fresh water on the boats are running out, Hoa said.
"They are counting on the help of Vietnamese Embassy in the Philippines. The owners of the seven fishing boats had paid a rather huge sum to the company as "medium fees," she said.
On Monday afternoon, Thanh Nien reporters arrived at the office of the Long Hai Company in a small alley in District 4, but the director was not there and could be be reached on his mobile phone.
Le Tien Phuong, chairman of Binh Thuan Province People's Committee, said the province would ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work with Philippine authorities to send the fishermen back home.
He said the Long Hai Company should be punished for their irresponsibility.