Gordon asks gov’t to save jailed sailors

January 16, 2009

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.


Related Stories:

Four Seamen of True Courage

N-Delta: The foreign connection in oil theft


DOLE still waiting for DFA assessment on Iraq ban

October 14, 2008
Philippine Barangay Society-Nigeria (PBSN)

Philippine Barangay Society-Nigeria (PBSN)

To all Filipinos in Nigeria. This news calls for another aggressive information campaign to our government officials to remove the travel and work ban in Nigeria. While we have nothing against the lifting of ban to Iraq, we find it unfair that the DFA remains deaf and dumb to our pleas to remove the ban.

Is Iraw far safer than Nigeria these days? What would the DFA do when another Filipino is killed or kidnapped in Iraq? Ban again? Like what they did to Nigeria?

When foreign countries issues travel warning against the Philippines on account of kidnapping or war in the South, the government gets a convulsions and insists the trouble is ‘only’ in the South.

What about Nigeria? Just because of a restive state in Nigeria, the Philippines is fit to consider entire Nigeria as unsafe? That is why it is not removing the ban?

This is really madness.

Let us write our Congressmen and OFW-friendly senators to help us get this ban lifted soonest.

Di na tayo makaka asa kay Ka Noli, masyadong busy para sa 2010.

DOLE still waiting for DFA assessment on Iraq ban
10/10/2008 | 05:26 PM
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday said it was still waiting for the assessment of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on whether the deployment ban on Iraq can be lifted or not.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said reports from the Middle East Preparedness Team indicated that the incidence of violence in Iraq has already dwindled but it was relying on the DFA’s recommendation.

“The DOLE position is subject to the security assessment by the DFA on the peace and order condition in Iraq,” Roque told GMANews.TV through a text message.

“While there maybe emerging employment opportunities there, the welfare of our nationals remains primal,” he said.

Recruitment agencies earlier called for a relaxation of the deployment ban to legally open up the job market in the war-torn country once more.

The Philippine government stopped sending workers to Iraq after Filipino accountant Robert Tarongoy was abducted in 2004.

The government said the abduction confirmed its apprehension of sending workers to the conflict-stricken country since the hostage-taking of truck driver Angelo dela Cruz that same year.

Word has it that the government spent millions of dollars for the freedom of the two hostages.

Roque admitted that despite the deployment ban, Filipino workers continued to enter Iraq illegally to take advantage of the high pay offered by mostly American companies with contracts in the Mideastern country.

He said reports reaching his office say the number of OFWs who are currently in Iraq has jumped to 15,000.

Labor officials have also maintained the deployment bans on Lebanon and Jordan despite similar calls for these to be lifted.

The Lebanon ban was kept due to ongoing peace and order problems while that on Jordan was kept because employers refused to comply with new conditions set for hiring OFWs.

Administrator Jennifer Manalili of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) has said the DFA recommended that these bans be maintained due to the “still volatile situation” in the two countries. – GMANews.TV


Why the government should lift the ban on Nigeria

May 16, 2008

This is in reference to the continued ban for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to Nigeria.

Late in 2006, the Philippine government declared a total ban of workers going to Nigeria on the account of the successive kidnapping incidents in Nigeria’s oil areas which involve OFWs. The action may have been justifiable at that point. The ban affected not only New Hires but vacationing OFWs as well, even those OFWs who are working in Lagos and non-oil areas for a long time already.

Early in 2007, upon the strength of the petition of some expatriate companies in Nigeria, the OFW association in Nigeria and endorsement of the Philippine Embassy, the Total Ban was scaled-down to Partial Ban, allowing only the vacationing OFWs with valid work visa to return to Nigeria.

After the resolution of the kidnapping issue, which involved not only Filipinos but other nationals as well, the Philippine government still maintained the ban on New Hire.

In Oct 2007, returning OFWs to Nigeria found themselves barred by Immigration and POEA officials at the NAIA because they were told a total ban is in effect.

We, the OFWs in Nigeria, believe that the imposition of a ban is not the solution to this issue of kidnapping, which for the record, also involved other nationalities. The continued ban is just hurting every Filipinos’ chances of getting a decent work and a chance to contribute to the Philippine economy.

By declaring a ban on Nigeria on issue of security of the country, the Philippine government is no less insulting the capabilities of the host country to maintain its internal peace and order. The present administration of His Excellency President Yaradua is doing huge effort to secure the oil areas and guaranty the safety of all expatriate workers.

One thing is certain in our minds, the kidnapping incidents in specific areas of Nigeria is not a mirror of the entire country’s state of security.

The OFWs themselves in the oil-areas have sent numerous letters to the Philippine embassy assuring the embassy that they feel safe with the present security efforts implemented in their workplace.

Filipino workers in Nigeria are found in Oil industry, civil and military aviation (pilots and avionics), Construction, Manufacturing, telecoms and service industries. Others are married to Nigerians, and the rest are relatives of Filipinos with residency.

We assure the government and our loved ones that Nigeria is a decent and relatively safe country to work and stay.


Instead of declaring a ban, may we recommend that the government should do what other governments are doing – give out advisory to Filipino workers in Nigeria to take precaution and observe company security policies. Then it should advise the embassy to coordinate communication with oil companies to ensure Filipinos will have direct line to embassy if their safety is threatened.

Bilateral Agreement

The present administration could also establish bilateral agreement with Nigeria and take an active role as major partner of Nigeria’s growing economy and its increasing demand for foreign workers. Philippines could lend a hand to Nigeria when it comes to village health care and education.

State Visit

Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo should consider making a state visit to Lagos/Abuja and go up in history as the only Philippine president to ever visit an African State, and the maybe the second head of state from SoutheastAsia to do so, after China’s Hu Jintao.

Preceding her state visit, a Philippines-Nigeria Business Cooperation summit maybe be organized. This is to paved the way for the establishment an office to handle Philippine investors coming to Nigeria, and as liaison to various Nigerian authorities.

Embassy Support

The DFA should open a consular office in Lagos. Considering that Lagos is the arrival and departure point for expatriates, and there are more Filipinos based in Lagos than in Abuja. Even Port Harcourt-based OFWs regulalry come to Lagos for R&R.

Also, deploy a POLO in Abuja embassy and in Lagos Consulate to process and document all Filipino workers in West African countries. Undocumented Filipinos here wanted to be registered with OWWA and POEA and legitimize their existence.

Last April 2008, Energy Sec. Angelo Reyes visited Lagos, Nigeria to attend a world energy summit. He saw for himself the status of Filipinos and the community in Lagos. And he can surely vouch for the stable peace and order of Nigeria.

If the government truly cares, it should put a ban on the hiring of DH to Middle East, Marianas.

There is more to gain for the government in lifting the ban on Nigeria immediately.