By Roy Mabasa
A total of 10 Filipino seafarers are in the hands of suspected pirates following two separate hijacking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, the Philippine embassy in Nigeria said on Wednesday.
Ambassador to Nigeria Shirley Ho-Vicario said the first hijacking incident happened last October 27 when two Filipino seafarers on board a Liberian-flagged container ship were among 11 crewmembers kidnapped by pirates who boarded their vessel.
On October 29, a group of pirates hijacked a Panamanian-registered tanker and seized eight Filipino seafarers and nine other crewmembers.
The kidnapped Filipinos remain unaccounted for up to this day, the Embassy said.
The Gulf of Guinea, which more than 300 kilometers from the Port of Lagos in Nigeria, is located between Cape Lopez in Gabon and Cape Palmas in Liberia.
These two sea hijackings came following the release of seven Filipino seamen on Sunday after spending more than a month in captivity. They were abducted last September 22 off the coast of Nigeria.
Vicario said the Embassy is exerting efforts to establish the whereabouts of the 10 Filipino seafarers and secure their safe release.
It is not known whether the latest series of hijackings were the handiwork of the same group of pirates who abducted the seven Filipinos on board a Swiss-flagged vessel off Nigerian waters last month.