By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Francis Tolentino on Wednesday urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to closely coordinate with the Iran authorities regarding the arrest of 12 Filipinos in the Persian Gulf due to alleged oil smuggling.
Tolentino disclosed that he filed a resolution in Senate about his appeal Tuesday, September 10.
The DFA, he said, should work with the Iran government and inquire on the condition of the arrested Filipinos.
The department earlier confirmed reports that the Iranian authorities seized over the weekend a Filipino-operated tugboat carrying 283,900 liters of petrol in the Strait of Hormuz. The Filipino crew was held alleged oil smuggling.
DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin said he has the “greatest trust in Iranian justice.”
“Responsibilidad natin na masiguro ang kaligtasan ng mga Filipino crew; mga kababayan natin ‘yan na nagsakripisyo na malayo sa kanilang mga pamilya, sa pag asa na makaangat sa kanilang pamumuhay. Isa sila sa mga bagong Bayani ng ating bayan, at dapat lamang din na suklian natin ang kanilang mga sakripisyo,” he said in a statement.
(It is our responsibility to ensure the safety of our Filipino crew; they are our countrymen who have sacrificed and been away from their families in the hopes of improving their lives. They are among our modern-day heroes and it is just proper that we equate their sacrifices.)
In his resolution, the vice chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee noted that Iran and the Philippines already have an established bilateral relationship.
He recalled that the two countries, during the sixth joint consular consultation meeting in January 2016, forged agreements on the exchange or swapping of prisoners, among others.
He added that both are parties to the 2013 Maritime Labour Convention which provides that state members should ensure the protection and promotion of seafarers’ rights.