By Roy Mabasa
The Office of Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Abdulla Mama-o has announced that the seven Filipino seafarers who were earlier acquitted by the Libyan court for alleged fuel smuggling will finally be home Tuesday.
Mama-o’s office said the seven OFWs, whose identities were withheld by Philippines authorities since their arrest in February 2017, will arrive at 6:15 p.m. via Turkish Airlines flight 84 from Istanbul, Turkey.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Hans Leo Cacdac will welcome the Filipino seafarers at Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
On orders of President Rodrigo Duterte and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Mama-o flew to Tripoli on March 8 to fetch the seven seafarers shortly after the Libyan High Court ordered their release.
While in Tripoli, Mama-o also met with Libyan Foreign Minister Taher Siala to personally hand a letter from Locsin, and discussed the situation of the remaining Filipino workers in Libya with Labor Minister Almadhdi Alameen.
On February 28, the Libyan High Court ordered the release of the seven Filipinos. They were among 20 Filipino crewmembers of Liberian-flagged M/T Levante who were arrested by Libyan authorities more than two years ago for alleged fuel smuggling.
The seven seafarers were sentenced to four years in prison in November for allegedly attempting to smuggle 16 million liters of fuel while the 13 other Filipinos were released in February last year.
Since the start of the case, the Philippine government through Bello and Mama-o, made several representations with Libyan authorities for the release of the Filipino seafarers.