Eighteen fishermen who had been seized in the Philippines arrived in the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on September 23.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), these are the first among 77 Vietnamese fishermen to be brought home on flights operated by the Philippine Airlines on Sept. 23, 25 and 26.

The remaining fishermen will continue temporarily staying at the quarters of the Western Military Command of the Philippines in Palawan province and will go home on their fishing vessels.

All ticket fares for the 77 Vietnamese fishermen are paid by businessman Jonathan Hanh Nguyen, CEO of the Imex Pan-Pacific Group.

On May 30, 2011, seven fishing vessels from Binh Thuan province with 122 fishermen on board were seized by the Philippine Navy about 2 nautical miles (3.6km) off Tamburok coast of Balabac, in Palawan province.

The fishermen had planned to go to the Philippines to fish under an economic contract between the Long Hai Long Company of Vietnam and the Philippines ’ Premiere International Interfishing Company. The fishing vessels and crews were arrested in the Philippines ’ territorial waters, when they had yet to complete necessary legal procedures.

The court of Palawan province decided to free the 122 Vietnamese fishermen on August 26 and September 1.

At present, the Vietnamese Embassy is continuing to work with the Philippine authorities to return the seven fishing vessels to their owners./.