Friday, January 21, 2011

18 Pinoy seafarers from hijacked ship arrive in PHL

After their release from captivity in Somalia last week, 18 Filipino seafarers of a Marshall Island-flagged chemical tanker arrived in the Philippines Friday afternoon.

The 18 crew of the MT Motivator arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on a Gulf Air flight, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Saturday.

A news release posted early Saturday on the DFA website said Captain Amahan, a representative of the vessel's principal, escorted the seafarers on their trip back to Manila.

Welcoming the seafarers were DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) officials and Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) representatives.

Representatives from the local manning agency of the vessel, Bright Maritime, were also at the airport to welcome the seafarers.

Officials from the Philippine Embassy in Muscat had welcomed the Filipino seafarers when they arrived at the port of Salalah, Oman.

"The Embassy provided them clothes, food and toiletries. Moreover, the Filipino community in Muscat also pulled their resources together to provide basic necessities to the seamen," the DFA said.

Also, the seafarers underwent medical check-up arranged by the Embassy with the vessel's principal.

The MT Motivator was hijacked last July 4 in the Southern Red Sea, between the Arabian Peninsula and Horn of Africa. It was released last Jan. 15.

The DFA said there are 119 Filipino seafarers on board 11 vessels being held captive by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

It added the Philippine government has undertaken measures to minimize the exposure of Filipino seafarers to pirate attacks.

Measures include making arrangements with ship principals and manning agencies for vessels to travel along a safety corridor which is patrolled by friendly foreign navies, and taking up the issue of maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Aden and in the Indian Ocean before the United Nations and other international organizations.

The Philippine government also deployed last year a naval liaison officer with the Combined Maritime Fleet in Manama, Bahrain, which coordinates the naval patrols.

For its part, the DFA-OUMWA continues to coordinate closely with the concerned Philippine Embassies, the vessels' principals and the local manning agencies for the early and safe release of the other Filipino seafarers. — LBG, GMANews.TV

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