24 Pinoy seamen in hijacked ship safe, unharmed – manning agency

A CYPRUS-FLAGGED, Greek-owned bulk carrier, with 24 Filipino seafarers aboard, was seized by Somali pirates as it sailed through the Gulf of Aden about 490 nautical miles southwest of Salaam in Oman on January 17, it was confirmed Wednesday by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The local manning agency of the “M/V Eagle” assured the DFA that the Filipinos are safe and unharmed and their respective families apprised of the incident. The Office of Migrant Workers Affairs is said to be closely coordinating with the Philippine embassies in Manama, Nairobi, and Athens for any further developments.

The DFA said the Philippine government has undertaken measures to minimize the exposure of Filipino seafarers to piracy attacks, including making arrangements with ship principals and manning agencies for vessels to travel along a safety corridor.

The corridor is patrolled by friendly foreign navies such as the United States and Japan. Last year, the Philippines also deployed a naval liaison officer with the Combined Maritime Fleet in Manama, which coordinates the naval patrols.

The issue of maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Aden and in the Indian Ocean has also been taken up before the United Nations and other international organizations.

According to DFA official records, a total 119 Filipino seafarers on 11 vessels seized separately in the past months are still held captive by Somalian pirates. It is believed that negotiations for their release succeed only if ransoms are paid by vessel owners. PNA

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