2 rescued Pinoy seafarers in Nigeria injured – DFA

May 19, 2009

2 rescued Pinoy seafarers in Nigeria injured – DFA
05/19/2009 | 04:10 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Two of the Filipino seafarers rescued last weekend from a hijacked oil tanker in Nigeria were hurt, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr. said the injured were among the nine Filipino seamen — not just six as earlier reported — who were rescued from Niger militants who hijacked the MV Spirit on May 13.

The MV Spirit had a seven other crew members of different nationalities, the DFa said.

“Two of the nine rescued Filipino seafarers had slight injuries,” Conejos said.

DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo had earlier dispatched Conejos to personally look into the condition and welfare of the Filipino seafarers on board the chartered oil tanker.

Quoting Nigerian army spokesperson Colonel Rabe Abubakar, the DFA reported that the latest operations brought the number of freed hostages to 13, including the nine Filipinos and four Nigerians.

“A consular team was sent to the city of Warri in Delta State where the hijacking took place, and the nine rescued Filipino sailors are expected to be turned over to the embassy’s custody shortly,” Conejos added.

Conejos and. Alex Lamadrid, Charge d’Affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Abuja, had met and continue to communicate with the Nigerian foreign ministry and federal security officials for the safe and early release of the remaining Filipino seafarers in the custody of Nigerian militants, the DFA said.

After years of militant activity and lack of maintenance on crucial oil infrastructure, Nigeria produces about 1.6 million barrels of crude per day, or about one quarter less than its stated capacity

The Philippine government has stopped sending Filipino workers to Nigeria following hostilities and kidnappings of foreign nationals. Several groups have requested that Manila lift the deployment ban as the situation there continues to improve. – Mark Joseph Ubalde, GMANews.TV




Manning agency told to hasten payment of fine for 13 jailed OFWs in Nigeria

February 25, 2009

02/25/2009 | 04:19 PM
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Noli de Castro on Tuesday said that he has told a local manning agency to hasten payment of the fine imposed on 13 jailed Filipino seamen in Nigeria so that they can finally be released.

De Castro said he has ordered Sea Gem Maritime International Inc. to cooperate with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) regarding the immediate payment of the fine by the Corinthian City, their foreign principal, and the eventual repatriation of the jailed seafarers.

Reports from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that the Nigerian court is asking for a fine of $6,500 or more than P310,000 for each of the imprisoned OFWs — a total of $84,500 or more than P4 million — for the entire group who were charged for allegedly stealing oil.

Stealing oil tapped illegally from well heads or pipelines is said to be a lucrative practice in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest petroleum producer.

The DFA said that the seafarers are going to languish in jail for five years unless the fines set by the Nigerian court are paid.

In a statement on Tuesday, De Castro expressed disappointment over the recruitment firm because the conviction of the 13 Filipino seamen in Nigeria is already the second incident that involved the agency.

Earlier, nine Filipino seamen contracted by Sea Gem were stranded in Nigeria after they escaped from armed pirates. Six of them were immediately repatriated, while the other three are expected to return to the Philippines soon.

“[Sea Gem] is presently facing several complaints and it must cooperate with the investigation of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). And if found liable, proper sanctions should be imposed,” said De Castro, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s adviser for OFW affairs.
GMANews.TV tried contacting Sea Gem Maritime International Inc. but it was not available for comment.

Records from the POEA showed that the agency is currently on preventive suspension. – GMANews.TV

Aside from Iraq, team to study lifting of deployment ban in Lebanon, Nigeria

February 23, 2009

DFA Sec. Alberto Romulo pays Lebanon President Bashar Al Assad02/06/2009 | 04:10 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The assessment team which will look into the possibility of lifting the deployment ban to Iraq will also study the possible resumption of the deployment of Filipino workers to Lebanon and Nigeria.

Vice President Noli De Castro – who is also the concurrent presidential adviser on OFWs – said the security of Filipino workers who will be deployed to these countries will be the main consideration for the assessment team led by special envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu.

The team will leave for Iraq, Lebanon and Nigeria next week.

“We seek to lift the deployment bans on these countries in order to widen our overseas employment market in the light of the global economic crisis besetting us… But of course, the safety and welfare of our OFWs far outweigh the economic effects. That’s why the decision of lifting the ban will be exhaustively and carefully studied,” De Castro said.

The government has decided to review its deployment policy in the three countries after receiving reports that security situation there have normalized, De Castro said.

But he said Manila will maintain its deployment ban in Jordan and Afghanistan as these countries are still considered “high-risk zone” for Filipino workers.

Manila imposed a ban on Iraq following the kidnapping of two Filipino truck drivers in 2004 and 2005.

Before the ban, around 6,000 Filipinos are working in Iraq and confined inside US military camps due to the volatile security condition in the country. But the figure, according to Iraq’s embassy in Manila, has swelled to 15,000, most of them working for foreign companies in Iraq’s northern region.

There is no way to monitor the exit and entry of Filipino workers in Iraq after the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad was temporarily relocated to Amman, Jordan in January 2005 because of the worsening security condition in the Middle East state.

The government likewise imposed a ban on Lebanon in 2006 after violence erupted between Hezbollah fighters and Israeli forces. Around 6,000 of them have been repatriated to the Philippines during the war, while the rest opted to stay for fear of losing their jobs. Manila also stopped the deployment of workers to Nigeria following a spate of kidnappings involving Filipino workers. – GMANews.TV

6 Pinoys stranded in Nigeria back in Manila Thursday

February 23, 2009

6 Pinoys stranded in Nigeria back in Manila Thursday
02/18/2009 | 03:40 PM
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MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Noli De Castro on Wednesday said six of the nine Filipino seafarers reportedly stranded in Lagos, Nigeria, will arrive in Manila Thursday.

The announcement came after De Castro – who is also adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers – had ordered the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the local manning agency that contracted the seamen to bring home the group immediately.

The Filipinos were part of the 18-man crew of M/T Meredith, and who were said to have escaped from an attack by armed pirates on January 21 at Bonny Terminal in Nigeria.

“The families of the seafarers informed our office that their loved ones have already been transferred from a supply boat (EVA 2) to a tugboat (Gallant) and now on their way to Lomé Port in Ghana, West Africa. They reported that 3 of them were not able to join the group that will be repatriated as they were the ones left to man M/T Meredith. We confirmed this with Seagem and with the Philippine embassy in Abuja, Nigeria,” De Castro said.

He said the six who are returning home on Flight GF154 are Rogelio Andales, Raymon de Domingo, Gloriand Sales, Michael Domingo, Alfredo Ferrer and Jebb Alonte. The three who were left behind are Novelito Trapsi, Elmer Cruz and George Parreño.

Manning agency Seagem Maritime Int’l contracted the Filipino crewmen, who manned a ship reportedly owned by Corinthian Maritime SA, Golden Carrier Shipping and Maritime Management Synergy SA.

“Seagem, through Capt. Jun Tuason, explained that their agency immediately acted upon our request. The three seafarers who remained in Nigeria will be included in the next batch to be repatriated. While OWWA Chief Carmelita Dimzon said that assistance to the group will be given upon their arrival in Manila,” VP De Castro said. – GMANews.TV

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