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Kidnapped Pinoy seafarers’ wives seek govt help

Kidnapped seafarers’ wives seek govt help
RAFFY AYENG August 21, 2019

THE wives of two of the nine abducted Filipino seafarers onboard two bulk carriers in Cameroon have sought the assistance of the Department of Labor and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Nelson Ramirez, president of the United Filipino Seafarers, on Tuesday said Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello 3rd had already coordinated with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regarding the condition of the seafarers who were snatched last Thursday off the waters of Douala, Cameroon, situated at the apex of the Gulf of Guinea that has become a hotspot of seaborne crimes.

Ramirez said Bello also assigned OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac to give assistance to the families of the kidnapped seafarers and coordinate with them regarding the condition of the victims.

He identified the two of the nine kidnapped seafarers as Crisman Bernardo, a chief cook, and Third Engineer Angelo Fontanilla, crew of Greek-owned and Liberian-flagged MV Victory C, employed under Status Maritime Corp. manning agency.

Ramirez said Jenalyn, the wife of Bernardo, sought their help on Monday to introduce her to government agencies that can help secure the safety of her husband, prompting them to accompany Jenalyn, as well as Gemma, the wife of Fontanilla, to Bello’s office.

The other sailors, who were able to run away from pirates who had abducted them, said their nine colleagues were offloaded and taken by the pirates.

Ramirez said the MV Victory C arrived at Doula anchorage on August 12 and was attacked in the morning of August 15.

Meanwhile, general cargo ship MV Marmalaita was attacked by pirates at the Wouri River estuary anchorage, also in Douala, in the morning of August 15 hours after the MV Victory C attack.

“Eight crew were kidnapped, including three Russians. The Marmalaita arrived in Douala on August 13 from the United States via Equatorial Guinea,” Ramirez said.

Foreign news wire Agence France-Presse first reported that 13 seafarers were kidnapped by pirates and were originally thought to be Chinese until port documents showed that they were Filipinos.

The port documents, according to the report, showed that nine Filipino hostages were taken from a Greek ship and another four from a German-owned vessel.

Noel Choong, head of the Information Service of the International Maritime Bureau based in Kuala Lumpur, confirmed the figures, but said he could not be sure of the nationalities of the sailors aboard the second ship.

The Gulf of Guinea, whose coastline stretches in a huge arc from Liberia to Gabon, is notorious for piracy, as well as oil theft, illegal fishing and human and drug trafficking.