By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: January 16, 2009
MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Richard Gordon has castigated the government for allegedly failing to rescue 13 Filipino crew members of a Greek-owned oil tanker who were arrested by the Nigerian government on suspicion of stealing thousands of tons of crude oil and have been languishing in jail since November.
Gordon said he would like the Department of Foreign Affairs to say what really happened in the case of the 13 seamen and whether they have been provided with legal representation in the Nigerian court.
“The government should be doing the necessary actions to help them,” he said, as he called on the DFA, the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to look into the cases of the jailed Filipino seamen.
He called on the POEA to cancel the license of Seagem, the local manning agent of the Greek ship owner Maritime Management Synergy, “which is suspected to have dealings with rebel groups in the Niger Delta.”
He identified the 13 seafarers as Erwin Antas, Ronie Fabricante, Celso Zapanta, Pedro Germentiza, Marcelo Galola, George Balore, Ruel Dosdos, Arjay Alvarez, Rolan Rao, Richard Peniano, Celso Baez, Reagan and Sebastian Teodosio.
The Filipino crewmen were arrested in their vessel, the Akuada, by the Nigerian Navy for allegedly conducting illegal oil transport operations at the behest of the ship’s Greek owner. Nine of the ship’s 22 Filipino crewmen were able to escape.