Vietnam embassy pledges to protect fishermen in Filipino trial

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The Vietnamese embassy in the Philippines Wednesday pledged to protect 122 fishermen who will stand trial next week for allegedly violating the country's territorial waters.

The Tuoi Tre newspaper Thursday quoted Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu as saying the Vietnamese embassy would present arguments and evidence  at the August 24-26 trial showing that the fishermen were victims.

Tu met Thursday with 115 fishermen who are detained in Palawan Province. A day earlier, he met with seven captains who have been let out on bail.

The ambassador also met with the province's chief Abraham Mitra, and both parties agreed to seek solutions in accordance with the law and based on humanitarian considerations.

According to initial information, the fishermen, all from the central province of Binh Thuan, were contracted by Ho Chi Minh City-based Long Hai Long Company to fish in the waters of the Philippines, but they were arrested May 30 on arrival.

The papers the fishermen presented upon their arrival weren't legal, police said.

Previously, Phan Van Thoai, director of the Long Hai Long company, had said that after signing the contract with the fishermen, he signed a contract with the Philippines-based Premiere International Interfishing to acquire a fishing license.

In other news, 12 Vietnamese fishermen who were rescued by Filipino fishermen last month will come back to Vietnam Friday.

The fishermen from the central provinces of Quang Ngai and Khanh Hoa said they went offshore fishing in June last year.

On July 20 their boat's engine broke down, Nguyen Dai, one of the fishermen said, adding that it could not be fixed in the next four days.

The boat was then sunk by a storm, and the fishermen drifted for four days until a Filipino vessel came to rescue them on July 28, Dai said.

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