17 Filipino crew of seized Galaxy Leader in 'good condition' -- DFA

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

March 11, 2024, 4:00 pm

<p>Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega <em>(PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)</em></p>

Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said the 17 Filipino seafarers of Galaxy Leader, a ship seized by the Houthis in the southern Red Sea, are in good condition but have yet to return to the country.

"Hindi sila kasama sa mga uuwi bukas (They are not included among those who will arrive in the country tomorrow)," DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said during a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon interview over PTV 4.

This was after the agency announced that 11 out of the 13 surviving seafarers of Houthi's attack on M/V True Confidence will be going home on March 12.

De Vega assured that the seafarers have food, are in good condition, and are able to communicate with their families.

"Nabibisita sila ng honorary consul natin sa Yemen, pero ikokondena ng UN [United Nations] Security Council ang aksiyon na ito at uulitin ang panawagan na ma-release sila at nakikipag-coordinate tayo sa (Our honorary consul in Yemen is able to visit them, but the UN Security Council condemns this action and we call for their release once again and we're coordinating with the) international communities," he said.

The DFA, through the Department of Migrant Workers, is encouraging manning agencies to exclude the Philippines or Filipino seafarers in certain regions.

"Wala pang ban kasi hindi natin maba-ban strictly iyan ano, 'yung seafarers kasi hindi iyan land-based. Sa land-based kasi pwede ka mag-ban o bawal pumunta sa ibang bansa," de Vega said.

"Kailangan bigyan lamang ang ating mga tripulanteng Pilipino ng option na tumanggi at 'wag pilitin kung ayaw nila maging crewmen ng isang barko na dadaan sa (Our Filipino seafarers must be given the option to decline and not be forced to be crewmen of a ship that will traverse the) Red Sea. Know if they are in the high-risk area, and are entitled to higher pay."

Citing the statement of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., de Vega said the DFA is calling on other countries for freedom of navigation and world commerce that is not impeded.

"Dapat walang nakakasagabal sa paglalakbay ng mga (There should be no obstacles to the trips of the) tankers or commercial ships because that's their right according to international law," he said. (PNA)