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DFA: 'Quiet diplomacy' ongoing to rescue 17 Filipino seafarers held hostage in Red Sea

MANILA, December 13 ------ The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it was using “quiet diplomacy” to secure the freedom of 17 Filipino seafarers taken hostage by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea in November. 

The government team on the ground is waiting for updates, including from the country’s honorary consul in Sanaa, Yemen, said Robert Ferrer, Jr., acting senior special assistant of the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs. “Our Embassy in Riyadh covers the Houthi controlled part of Yemen kasi nagrebelde po sila against the recognized government. But may quiet diplomacy po na nangyayari ngayon among the ambassadors po sa Oman,” Ferrer said at the confirmation hearing of the Senate foreign affairs committee for 49 foreign service appointees. “We are awaiting updates from our Ambassador in Oman and our Ambassador in Qatar... because these two countries are the active ones in mediating po with the Houthi in the release po of the 17 seafarers.” 

The Houthis said it seized the vessel on behalf of Palestinians who are being massacred by Israel. They said they would target all ships related to Israel and warned that no country's vessels should engage with Israel in the Red Sea. The British-owned cargo ship is operated by a Japanese company.  The Nippon Yusen K.K., known as NYK Line, has a total of 25 people on board. The crew hails from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico and Romania, Kyodo News reported. 


The Israel Defense Forces said: "The hijacking of a cargo ship by the Houthis near Yemen in the southern Red Sea is a very grave incident of global consequence." The crew did not include an Israeli and the ship "is not an Israeli ship," the military said, noting that the vessel departed Turkey bound for India. 



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