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Bishop calls for ‘compassion’ for Filipino seafarers stranded in Australia

Bishop calls for ‘compassion’ for Filipino seafarers stranded in Australia
Beatrice Pinlac -January 11, 2023

MANILA, Philippines – Bishop Ruperto Santos and chaplains of the Stella-Maris Philippines have called for compassion for the Filipino seafarers reportedly abandoned in Australia by their Chinese livestock carrier ship Yangtze Fortune.

In a statement on Tuesday, they slammed the “despicable exploitation” and “unjust treatment” of the Filipino seafarers “whose only dream is to give their families a better life.”

“We pray that our seafarers may be given immediate assistance and every effort be made to protect their rights. We are also hopeful for their fair remuneration, not only the unpaid wages for their services rendered but also for the sacrifices they endured,” they said.

Santos said they will continue to offer prayers and masses “for the safety, sound health, and peaceful voyage back home of the seafarers.”

Abandoned in a stranded ship

According to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the Yangtze Fortune was arrested by the Australian Federal Court in Portland, Victoria.

The ship, it said, has been anchored near Portland since October and will be subjected to an abandonment notice filed with the International Labour Organization.

“After many weeks at anchor near Portland, provisions aboard the ship are running low and many of the crew are desperate to return home but must now stay with the ship while court action and the ship’s sale process unfold,” ITF said in a statement.

ITF Australian Inspectorate Coordinator Ian Bray also noted that more than 30 crew members–all from the Philippines–have since been abandoned on the stranded ship.

“These workers are already owed, collectively, more than a quarter of a million dollars in unpaid wages, and while the court action is on foot, they must stay with their ship despite the ever diminishing prospect of receiving what is owed to them,” he added.