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Philippines bars its seafarers from some vessels in Red Sea, Gulf of Aden

MANILA, Philippines, April 25 ------ The Philippines has barred the deployment of Filipino seafarers to passenger and cruise vessels traversing the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) announced on Wednesday, April 24. 


The Gulf of Aden and the southern Red Sea were earlier designated by the International Bargaining Forum as warlike zones. “All Filipino seafarers to be employed for passenger/cruise vessels shall not be allowed to traverse on the abovementioned zones effective immediately,” the DMW’s Department Order (DO) No. 2 reads. 


The two areas have been sites of violence amid conflict in the region, particularly the war between Israel and Hamas, coupled with incidents involving the Yemeni Houthi rebels and Iran. At least two Filipinos have been killed so far in the tensions. They were seafarers aboard bulk carrier True Confidence, which Houthi rebels attacked in the Gulf of Aden in March. 


The DMW directed all licensed manning agencies of Filipino seafarers to write an affirmation letter that the ship their workers will board will not pass through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, and indicate the itinerary every time the agencies document employment contracts of their crew prior to deployment. The seafarers employed by the manning agencies must also sign these letters, confirming they know that their vessel will not traverse the warlike zones. 


While the DO covers passenger and cruise ships, cargo ships are excluded. Cargo ships with Filipinos are the usual vessels that have been reported attacked or affected by the regional conflict. The Galaxy Leader cargo ship, for instance, has on board 17 Filipino seafarers who have been hostaged by the Houthi rebels since November 2023. DMW spokesperson Toby Nebrida said a subsequent advisory for vessels that are not passenger or cruise ships isn’t expected yet. 


Filipino seafarers working on cargo ships that will traverse the designated high-risk and warlike zones have the right to refuse sailing. If they choose to embark on the journey, they are entitled to double compensation, bonuses, and other benefits like repatriation covered by their company. The DMW earlier said that manning agencies not reporting ships with Filipino seafarers passing through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden will face sanctions in the Philippines.  




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