Pirates abduct 10 Pinoy seafarers

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Ten Filipino seafarers were abducted by pirates who intercepted two commercial vessels in separate occasions in the Gulf of Guinea recently, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

“The DFA has been informed that 10 Filipino seafarers are in the hands of suspected pirates who hijacked two vessels in the Gulf of Guinea,” the DFA said in a statement.

In her report to DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Ambassador to Nigeria Shirley Ho-Vicario reported that two Filipino seafarers on board a Liberian-flagged container ship were among 11 crew members kidnapped by pirates last Saturday.

Vicario said another eight Filipino seafarers on a Panamanian-registered tanker along with nine other crew members remain unaccounted for after their vessel was hijacked by pirates on Monday, 29 October.

She said the embassy is exerting efforts to establish the whereabouts of the 10 seafarers and secure their safe release.

It was not immediately clear if the seafarers were taken by the same group of pirates who abducted seven Filipinos on board a Swiss-flagged vessel off Nigerian waters last month. The seven were released on Sunday.

Meanwhile, 22 Filipino truck drivers were rescued by Danish police from inhumane working and living conditions under their employer in Padborg, Denmark.

Another eight Filipino seafarers on a Panamanian-registered tanker along with nine other crew members remain unaccounted for.

The DFA expressed gratitude to Denmark authorities for the safe rescue of the overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

“The DFA expressed its appreciation to authorities in Denmark for rescuing 22 Filipino truck drivers who were reported to have been living and working in deplorable conditions in the southern part of the country,” the DFA said in a statement.

In a report to Locsin, the Philippine Embassy to Norway said the rescue mission was launched by Danish police during a raid on the victims’ camp in Padborg early morning yesterday.

The embassy, which has jurisdiction over Denmark, has been working closely with Danish authorities in the past weeks to assist Filipino truck drivers who have been working in substandard conditions there.

Upon the request of Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III instructed Geneva-based Labor Attaché Delmer Cruz to proceed immediately to Copenhagen to look into the situation of the drivers.

She said the embassy, the DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment will assist the Filipinos until an appropriate and amicable solution is reached.

Prior to the rescue, Garcia said the Embassy has been coordinating with the United Federation of Danish Workers, Danish authorities and other contacts as soon as it learned of the drivers’ situation.

Garcia flew to Denmark with a team and found out the living conditions of the Filipino drivers are unacceptable by any standard.

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