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Safe return of 17 Pinoy seafarers seen – DMW


Rhodina Villanueva – The Philippine Star

November 26, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has assured the families of the 17 Filipino seafarers taken hostage by Yemen’s Houthi armed group in the Red Sea last week that the agency is doing its best for their safe return to the Philippines.

The DMW has been continuously communicating with the families of these 17 hostages, according to the agency’s officer-in-charge OIC Hans Leo Cacdac.

“When the news broke out around midnight last Sunday, immediately the following day, we touched base with the manning agency and the concerned families. We had a general meeting through video conferencing,” Cacdac said at a forum in Quezon City last Saturday.

“A meeting will be held again. We’re just making sure that we are in touch with the families. There is counseling that is taking place there. It will guide us through the processes, the difficult times that they are going through,” he added.

Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega pointed out that the government does not pay ransom in this kind of situation.

“If the question is if we are paying ransom, no. This works since the hostages are eventually released. There is no issue of paying ransom – this is a political gesture that they make; it’s not the first time they’ve done it,” De Vega said.

The DFA official said agency officials are exercising all efforts to effect the release of the 17 Pinoy hostages.

“We’re using diplomatic representations with various countries,” he said.

The incident is purportedly connected with the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said the seizure of the ship Galaxy Leader was in response to the “heinous acts against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank.”

Bishop’s appeal

In a related development, a Catholic bishop has prayed that the Filipino seafarers held hostage by a group of rebels in Yemen remained safe, and that the government work continuously for their freedom.

Masses across the country will be offered for the safety of the 17 Filipino crew members of the cargo vessel Galaxy Leader hijacked by members of Yemeni rebel group Houthi, according to Antipolo Bishop Ruperto Santos.

Aside from Santos, chaplains of Stella Maris Philippines from Manila, Cebu, La Union, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Capiz, Iligan, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Batangas, Davao, Pangasinan and Basilan signed and joined the “oremus pro invicem.” — Ghio Ong

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