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42 Pinoy seafarers safe after Red Sea missile attack

MANILA, Philippines, May 2 ------ All 42 Filipino seafarers onboard foreign vessels that encountered missile attacks while traversing the Red Sea are safe, according to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). 


Six ships have been attacked in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since April 25, Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Cacdac said yesterday during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum. Three of the six ships have Filipino seafarers, he noted. “The crew are all safe and en route to their destinations. Minor damage on the ships was reported,” Cacdac said. 


The DMW has been pleading with ship owners to divert their voyages and not pass through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden for the safety of seafarers, he added. If passing through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden – which were declared as “war-like zones” – cannot be avoided, the DMW wants ship owners to allow Filipino seafarers to disembark and join another voyage, Cacdac said. 


Due to the current situation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the DMW has developed a mechanism for Filipino seafarers to exercise their right to refuse sailing in high-risk and war-like areas. As of this time, 25 Filipino seafarers have exercised their right to refuse sailing in high-risk and war-like zones, Cacdac reported. 


The DMW is utilizing a P2.8-billion budget to assist distressed overseas Filipino workers, including seafarers. The Philippines recorded an all-time high of 578,626 deployments of Filipino seamen in 2023, he noted. 


Late last year, 17 Filipino seafarers were captured and held hostage by Houthi rebels while their ships were traversing the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Two seafarers were killed and two others were injured when Houthi rebels attacked their vessels last March. The Department of Foreign Affairs is leading negotiations for the safe release of the 17 Filipino seafarers, Cacdac said. The DMW is working on the repatriation of the two seafarers’ remains, he added. 


Seafarers’ deployment has returned to pre-pandemic levels, he said. Filipino seafarers are in high demand by foreign ship owners. 


OFW Protection 

President Marcos yesterday called for stronger protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), whose remittances have kept the Philippine economy afloat. During the Labor Day celebration at Malacañang, Marcos issued three directives promoting the welfare and safety of more than two million OFWs. 


The DMW must continue mobilizing the P2.8-billion Aksyon Fund to protect distressed OFWs, help them attain justice and keep them safe during global crises and emergencies, Marcos said. 


“Second, let us strengthen our efforts on labor diplomacy at the bilateral and multilateral level and realize our shared responsibility with (the) host country to ensure safe and ethical recruitment processes and just and humane conditions for our OFWs,” he added. 


Agencies have also been directed to empower OFWs as “partners in nation-building,” he noted. “I have directed the DMW, the Department of Labor and Employment and all other government agencies to strengthen program coordination and development for the reintegration of returning OFWs,” he said. 




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