DFA: Iran to release 4 Pinoy seafarers soon

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
DFA: Iran to release 4 Pinoy seafarers soon
This image grab taken from a UGC video posted on social media on April 13, 2024 shows Iran's Revolutionary Guards rappelling down onto a container ship named, MSC Aries, near the Strait of Hormuz. Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Saturday seized a container ship "related to the Zionist regime (Israel) in the Gulf," state media reported, as tensions soar in the region.

MANILA, Philippines — The four Filipino seafarers aboard the container ship seized by Iranian forces on Saturday have been told by their captors that they will soon be released, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official said yesterday.

“Nobody wants to be in this situation but they have been told that they will be released soon – all of them, all of the seafarers,” DFA Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said in an interview with ANC.

He noted the four seafarers were “fine” and being fed by the Iranians. They were also allowed to speak to their families.

Iran state-run media reported that Revolutionary Guards had seized the MSC Aries ship, saying it was “linked to Israel” and was being transferred to Iran’s territorial waters.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the MSC Aries, registered in Portugal, through a helicopter raid as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz, which lies between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

MSC, which operates the Aries, said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.

Meanwhile, the DFA has not received recommendations from the Philippine embassies in Tel Aviv and Tehran to raise the alert level in the two countries following Iran’s unprecedented attack against Israel over the weekend.

“We are waiting for the recommendations of our ambassadors in Tel Aviv and Tehran. I spoke to Ambassador (Pedro) Laylo Jr. There was no recommendation to raise the alert level,” De Vega said.

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is now lobbying for the classification of the Strait of Hormuz as a “high-risk” area.

“By spearheading the push for this high-risk area designation, we are taking a proactive stance to encourage stricter enforcement of security measures and provide our seafarers with the necessary safeguards during their passage,” DMW officer-in-charge Hans Cacdac said yesterday. — Mayen Jaymalin

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