Posted date: December 15, 2008
December 13, 2008- We have read or listened to the most harrowing stories of Filipino Seafarers caught in the business of “oil bunkering” here in Niger Delta, Nigeria. They keep on happening and being highlighted in the news, but not the story of the four Filipino seamen who refused to succumb to earning a few dollars more…real OFW heroes who speak, at last, of the honesty of the Filipino working class,
Capt. Roy C. Hidalgo, divers Rudy B. Torres, Gil G. Canete and Jaime Jimenez – four good seamen who refused to follow the evil instruction of the Greek principal to do OIL BUNKERING.
And so, Capt. Hidalgo abandoned the ship he manned, taking the three Filipino divers. Run they did and, helped by some Filipinos working in Lagos, they found their way to our Philippine Embassy in Abuja , Nigeria, where they received good assistance from our Embassy staff led by Charge D’Affaires, Atty. Alimatar Garangan.
Oil bunkering is sabotaging the economy of Nigeria, unfortunately thrown our Filipino seamen into a difficult situation. Moral questions arise: ”Do I allow myself to be a pawn on the “money” board?”
”What if I get caught and land in the prison described as a ‘death wish’ zone?” “But the money is good, and how could I say no to my principal; how could I not be a part of the game when majority of the crew cannot do anything but follow the instruction, albeit evil it may be?”
The result – 22 more Filipino seamen caught 3 weeks back, plus another 15 more caught just this week are now in the hands of the Nigerian authorities. For the nth time, the same story involving the same players, and poor Filipino seafarers who just wanted to give their loved ones a good life are forced between a rock and a hard place unknown to them.
But not Roy, Rudy, Gil and Jaime. They are now on the way home, without fanfare. This is the kind of story that CFO and CMA must be pleased to hear and crave to highlight – the good deed these four Filipino seamen just accomplished.
As Capt. Roy Hidalgo courageously said during Pusong Pinoy Christmas Party last Dec. 7 at the Philippine Embassy, “Never mind if I lose the opportunity to man a ship again; at least I did not surrender my faith.”
Capt. Hidalgo mentioned that he intends to put up a case against SEAGEM, the manning agency in the Philippines that kept on supplying Filipino seamen, in spite of knowing the tragic incidents involving their recruits – or does SEAGEM have a major role in the conspiracy?
For a few dollars more, Filipinos are capable of pushing our countrymen to tragedy. While we land-based professional OFWs here in Nigeria offer our prayers for the early release of our countrymen caught for doing the dirty job, something must be done from the root cause of the problem.
Must we continue allowing Filipino seamen to enter the Niger Delta through the same manning agency in spite of the many incidents involving it? It is hurting the reputation of our country, being labeled now as a nation of thieves! This tag is reverberating loudly in our ears and pounding in our hearts. Something must be done by our government NOW, not when the problem has become too serious to handle!
Philippine media should be advised; it should make noise and have our POEA officials think twice about stopping the likes of SEAGEM.
President, Pusong Pinoy Association
FCT Abuja, Nigeria