Filipino seaman sues cruise line in the US for delays in repatriation plans

Published May 28, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Roy Mabasa

Having been languishing on a cruise ship for more than two months since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a Filipino crewmember of MV Celebrity Millennium docked in San Diego, California filed a lawsuit last week asking a United States federal court to send them home immediately.

No less than Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. confirmed the case in a tweet on May 24: “Filipino crew on Royal Caribbean Cruise ships have sued the company to let them go home despite several broken promises to do so because flights cancelled and lately PH not accepting more. Wait till they get here and are quarantined indefinitely while test results pending forever.”

Miami Herald, which first reported the story last week, said Filipino Ryan Maunes Maglana, crewmember of Celebrity Millennium, one of the cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise, claimed in the lawsuit that he and his other colleagues have been held against their will without pay for more than two months, as the company has repeatedly delayed repatriation plans for them.

Maglana is said to be asking the court to intervene with emergency relief.

The development comes as thousands of crewmembers have remained trapped on ships worldwide since the cruise industry shut down operations in the middle of March amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Florida-based newspaper said that in a May 19 repatriation plan obtained from the company, it showed that “9,358 Filipinos are still waiting to go home.”

Except for the Quantum of the Seas, which is already anchored off Manila with 224 Filipino crewmembers, it was reported that all other Filipinos will return home on flights scheduled between now and later in July.

Complicating the delays in the repatriation of hundreds of overseas Filipino workers are travel restrictions that are currently in place in many countries, including the Philippines.

Earlier this month, the Philippine government briefly suspended all inbound commercial and repatriation flights due to congestions in all quarantine centers in Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, a 32-year-old Filipino crewmember of cruise ship Scarlet Lady died last week of “self-inflicted harm,” the United States Coast Guard confirmed in a report on May 27.