Philippines fines Vietnamese fishermen in fishing scam

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The Filipino authorities have ordered 122 Vietnamese fishermen who were acquitted of territorial waters violation charges last month to pay a total of 6.1 million peso (US$140,975) in fines, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Saturday.

However, the Vietnamese embassy in Manila on Friday sent a proposal to the Philippines government asking for lower fines because the fishermen are poor, the newspaper quoted the embassy as saying.

All the fishermen are now staying in a camp of the Philippines' military headquarters, after being released from Palawan province's detention center, according to the newspaper.

Eighty-five of them were released on August 26 after a court hearing, while others were kept into custody until September 1 when local prosecutors dropped charges of catching some of the Philippines' rare marine species against them.

The fishermen, all from the central province of Binh Thuan, were arrested on May 30, as Filipino police found the papers upon their arrival weren't legal.

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They had come to the Philippines under a contract with the Ho Chi Minh City-based Long Hai Long, which signed a contract with the Philippines-based Premiere International Interfishing to acquire fishing licenses for the fishermen.

However, since they were arrested, the foreign company's representative, Kho Tho Min, has been nowhere to be found.

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