‘Deployment ban to Gulf of Aden risky, ridiculous’

April 22, 2009

04/20/2009 | 12:48 PM

TROUBLED WATERS. French commandos on Wednesday intercept a small vessel suspected of Somali carrying pirates. AP

MANILA, Philippines – A Manila-based seafarers’ group found it impossible for the Philippines to implement a deployment ban of Filipino sailors to the Gulf of Aden and instead called the government’s recent action to curb high-seas kidnappings ‘ridiculous.’

The United Filipino Seafarers (UFS) strongly opposed the deployment ban Malacañang ordered after the number of Filipino sailors held captive by pirates in Somalia rose to more than 100, saying that ship owners would face a logistical nightmare once the ban is imposed.

In a news release posted in the Office of the Press Secretary’s website on Saturday that the Labor department issued a ban “on commercial ships “against the travel to the Gulf of Aden or within 200 nautical miles or 300 kilometers from Somalia.”

But UFS president Nelson Ramirez stressed that the deployment ban would put at risk the jobs of thousands of Filipino seafarers since almost 40 percent of merchant vessels pass through the Gulf of Aden, an important waterway for international trade.

“If the proposal is pushed through, that would mean lost opportunities for many Filipino seafarers,“ Ramirez told GMANews.TV in an E-mail.

Ramirez also opposes the plan to let Filipino seafarers disembark at the nearest port before passing through the Gulf of Aden and let them on board again once the vessel safely passed through the “danger zone.”

“No shipowner in his right mind, would even think of disembarking Filipino seafarers before his commercial vessel enters the Gulf of Aden…simply put, it is a ridiculous proposal,” he added.

Ramirez believes that the ban is nothing more than an offshoot to the the daring but successful rescue operations made by US Navy Seals to rescue American skipper Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates on April 12. [See: Kidnapped US captain freed; snipers kill 3 Somali pirates]

“Just to prove that they’ve done something they would impose the ban. [Well], their solution is not a solution [but] creates chaos and confusion,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez explained that except for UN-sanctioned vessels that usually bring in food and relief goods to the lawless African state of Somalia, there are also no commercial vessels going into or out of that country.

“So the ban cannot be imposed technically,” he said.

“In addition, the Somali pirates are not just operating near the coastal waters off Somalia or Gulf of Aden per se but actually in the waters forming the Horn of Africa, which is about one million square miles,” Ramirez said.



Special envoy Amb. Roy Cimatu visited Nigeria: Ban soon to be lifted..

March 8, 2009

dsc01532After the visit of Gen Cimatu last week, it seems like the ban in Nigeria will soon be lifted.

As it is, Mrs Derpo spoke at length with Gen Cimatu as he arived in Nigeria on March 4, 2009, before proceeding to Abuja.

On March 5th, Gen Cimatu is said to have met wth the Foreign Affairs minister of Nigeria to discuss security situation of OFWs. The Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister reportedly told Gen Cimatu that everything is okay with filipinos in Nigeria, except in Oil areas.

Later in the day, Gen Cimatu went to the compound of Julius Berger Construction company, where majority of expat employees are Filipinos. Gen Cimatu was guided by Engr Lito Nocum, the head of Filipino association in Abuja, in touring the accommodations for Filipinos.

Gen Cimatu quipped that he’d never seen so many cars outside the embassy belonging to OFWs. He compared Nigeria to Lebanon. To which an OFW said in jest, “walang pong DH sa Nigeria kasi”.

dsc01558Gen Cimatu wrapped-up his visit to Nigeria with a meeting with Filipinos in Ikeja, Lagos. He was met by the Philippine Barangay Society in Nigeria (PBSN) chairperson (and Banaag 2008 Awardee). Mrs Esperanza Derpo in the airport, and to the PBSN clubhouse in Ikeja.

The meeting with PBSN, emceed by Veronica Bernas-Snoxell, started with the singing of the Phil National Anthem. Father Doury, a long-time Filipino priest in Lagos gave the invocation. Mr. Tito Villaruel, VP of PBSN gave the welcome remarks.  Consul General Alex Lamadrid introduced Ambassador Cimatu, after that, Mrs Derpo presented the Naija Pinoys appeal via a power point presentation. – as reported by Marix Tajo.

Gen. Cimatu reiterated his observation that he was impressed at the job positions of Filipinos (managers and supervisors), and the salary/ accommodations they have in Nigeria.

When asked what would be his recommendation to the President, Gen Cimatu gamely said that it’s obvious from his “body language” that he will recommend for the lifting of the ban.

Gen. Cimatu was accompanied by Consul-Gen Alex LaMadrid on his trip to Abuja and Lagos.

Con-Gen Lamadrid stayed in Ikeja until Sunday so he could attend the March Family Day gathering in Ikeja.

Nigeria is home to almost 5,000 OFWs employed in oil & gas, telecoms, construction, manufacturing and services sectors. Filipinos have been in Nigeria since the early 70’s.

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