Friday, July 25, 2008

Philippine govt. co-ording release of 20 Filipino seamen seized by pirates off Somalia

This is from the Inquirer.
No doubt there will be ransom demanded. The Philippine government leaves it to others to pay the ransom! Of course it does this for noble motives namely that one should not encourage pirates by giving in to ransom demands. It is OK I imagine if others do so though! Some pirates need to kidnap these lofty idealists who refuse to pay ransoms and see if they request that their government not pay to release them.

VICE PRES DE CASTRO:Efforts on for safe release of seamen seized in Somalia
Gov’t coordinating with ship ownersBy Cynthia BalanaPhilippine Daily InquirerFirst Posted 14:34:00 07/24/2008
MANILA, Philippines -- The government is coordinating with a Japanese shipping firm, manning agents and international maritime authorities to secure the safe release of 20 Filipino seamen of a bulk carrier seized by pirates off Somalia last Sunday, Vice President Noli de Castro said Thursday.
In an interview, De Castro, who is also presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), said the Department of Foreign Affairs has instructed the embassies in Japan and Kenya to stay in touch with MMS Co. Ltd. of Tokyo, owner of the MV Stella Maris and provide regular updates on negotiations for the hostages’ release.
The families here of the seamen have been informed by the DFA of the incident and of efforts to secure their release, De Castro said.
DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos said the Panamanian-flagged ship, reportedly loaded with lead and zinc, was boarded and seized by the pirates in the Gulf of Aden, which is in international waters, at around 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
Conejos said the ship owners reestablished contact with the ship’s crew and their abductors after two days and were assured that the hostages were unharmed.
As of posting time, the ship was sailing toward the northeast tip of Somalia.
"I was assured that contact has been established between the crew and the owner of the ship…This was also according to the captain who is also a Filipino. All the 20 Filipinos are safe and sound," Conejos said.
Although there has yet been no report of a ransom demand, De Castro said the government would stand firm on its no-ransom policy.
Conejos said that, like similar incidents in the past, the government will not be directly involved in the negotiations for the release of the hostages.
"I stressed to the local manning agent that it is the policy of government never to negotiate with pirates. We look towards the local manning agents and the ship owner and the host country because they have the responsibility to ensure the safety and the earliest release of the crew," Conejos said.
Pirate attacks in Somalia and Nigeria went up in the first quarter of 2008, making Africa the world’s top piracy hotspot, the International Maritime Bureau reported earlier this month.
In April, Somali pirates seized a luxury French yacht with a crew of 30 on board, six of them Filipinos. A week later, French troops arrested six pirates after the hostages were released.
On May 25, about five Filipino seafarers were also held hostage after the MV Amiya Scan was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden. The vessel and its passengers were released by pirates 30 days later. The Filipino crew arrived in the Philippines last July 1.

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