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Mt Mattheos I With 14 Filipino Seafarers Seized
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed that a Cyprus-flagged and Norwegian-managed tanker was seized on September 14, with 14 Filipino seafarers onboard in Lome, Togo in West Africa.
MT Mattheos I has a total of 23 seafarers of mixed nationalities onboard.
In a report to the DFA, the vessel’s local manning agency also stated that all crew members are well and safe and that the families of the Filipino seafarers were already apprised of the incident.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario has instructed the Philippine Embassy in Abuja to make representations with the Nigerian authorities for the safe rescue of the Filipino seafarers and the Philippine Embassy in Oslo to coordinate with the vessel’s principal in Norway to ensure that negotiations for the release of the Filipino seafarers is being undertaken.
The DFA is closely coordinating with the Embassies and the local manning agency of the vessel for any further developments.
The last incident of kidnapping in West Africa involving Nigerian pirates was in July 2011 involving 20 Filipino seafarers of MT Anema E Core who were eventually released after 24 days of captivity.
Of the 104 Filipinos who have been kidnapped off the coast of West Africa since February 2006, 88 Filipinos have been released, two are still missing, and 14 are being held captive.
Off the coast of Somalia, a total of 32 Filipino seafarers onboard five vessels have been held captive as of date.
The Philippine government has undertaken measures to minimize the exposure of Filipino seafarers to piracy attacks, including making arrangements with ship principals and manning agencies for vessels to travel along a safety corridor and to adopt best management practices as a deterrence to piracy attacks.
It has likewise taken up the issue of maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Aden and in the Indian Ocean before the United Nations and other international organizations. The Philippines is a member of the intergovernmental Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).
The DFA continues to coordinate closely with the concerned Philippine Embassies, the vessels’ principals and the local manning agencies for the early and safe release of the other Filipino seafarers.