MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine embassy in Yangon has asked Myanmar authorities to be allowed to see the 14 detained Filipino fishermen who were caught for alleged illegal fishing off Myanmar waters, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.
“The embassy has requested for consular access to the fishermen,” the DFA said in a statement.
“The Philippine embassy is in the process of securing the passport details and other pertinent data of the Filipino fishermen from Myanmar authorities,” it added.
The 14 Filipino fishermen were among the 40 caught on board four Taiwan-owned fishing vessels on Friday. The others were Indonesian and Taiwanese nationals.
Detained at Insein Prison, where the Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was at one time jailed, the detained foreign fishermen are likely to be charged with violating immigration laws.
The DFA said that while any liability must be borne by the ship captain or owner, the Philippine government will extend all necessary legal help to the Filipino fishermen.
After getting other information apart from their names, the department said it will work for the Filipino fishermen’s immediate repatriation.
Quoting the Taipei-based China Times, an earlier AFP report said the four boats had left the Thai island of Phuket on November 18 and were chased by the Myanmar navy the following day, before radio contact was lost. The vessels were allegedly on Myanmar’s exclusive economic zone without the country’s permission.
Under the law of the sea, a nation has the right to outline an exclusive economic zone stretching up to 200 nautical miles from its shores and claim the right to exploit the resources within that area.
Myanmar possesses a 2,229 kilometer-long (1,385 miles) coastline along the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.
Myanmar and the Philippines are members of Asean, the regional bloc that has recently approved its charter. The other Asean member-states are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.