DMW probes trafficking of Pinoy fishers in Namibia

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has sought an investigation into the reported forced labor trafficking of 36 Filipino fishermen to Namibia.

Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople yesterday reported that they have endorsed the case of 36 Filipino fishermen to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for investigation and appropriate action.

The fishermen told the DMW that they were initially recruited to work in Taiwan but ended up fishing in Namibia.

“Based on the testimonies that we gathered, the fishermen were sometimes made to work for 36 hours straight with only two meals a day, and an average of four hours of sleep. Their identity papers, including passports and seamen’s books, were kept away from the workers, which is a blatant violation of the rights of these seafarers,” Ople disclosed.

Ople said the manning agencies involved in the recruitment of the fishermen – Trioceanic Manning & Shipping Inc. and Diamond H Marine Services & Shipping Agency – have appeared before the DMW and were able to pay the back wages due to the aggrieved fishermen.

The DMW is also investigating the principals involved in the Namibian case: Shang Chi Enterprise Ltd., One Marine Services Inc. and Arrow Marine PTE, Ltd.

“They are facing permanent disqualification from the hiring of Filipino fishermen,” Ople stressed.

Last September, fishermen were rescued from two industrial fishing vessels in Namibia. Of the 60 people rescued from M/Vs Shang Fu and Nata 2 in Waivis Bay, most were from the Philippines.

Ople said the department has sought the help of the DOJ and IACAT given the international dimension of the case and the gravity of contractual and labor violations committed against the fishermen.


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