President Duterte has ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide assistance to some Filipino seafarers stranded on ships abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic, saying human beings are not commodities left behind to rot.
The President said some seafarers have been stuck in their ships since their vessels are prevented from docking in some places as a precaution against the coronavirus outbreak. Duterte said the country’s diplomatic posts must look into the situation of seafarers in their areas of jurisdiction and ensure they are taken care of.
“In the so many places around the world where Filipinos are working – are there, some are still in the limbo. Hindi nila alam kung saan sila pupunta and makauwi pa ba sila o hindi (They don’t know if they still go home or not),” Duterte said during a televised public address Monday night.
“Now, I would like to direct the Foreign Affairs Department, ‘yung mga commercial attaché natin and even the police – we have police and military guys who are assigned in the different embassies, kindly check and do a – a validation report kung mayroon bang mga Pilipino na na-stranded sa inyong lugar (do a validation report if there are Filipinos stranded in your places), in the area of your responsibility in other countries where you are assigned,” he said.
Duterte said some sea vessels, which cannot go ashore, are “floating just like a flotsam” and “floating without really knowing what is tomorrow for them.”
He said the DFA may request the host government for assistance for the stranded Filipino seafarers. “Paki gawa na lang that all you can, whatever that effort is, try to just go out and help the Filipinos,” he said.
He admitted that it pains him that he cannot help Filipinos who are in need.
“So nakaawa naman ito and it pains me to realize that nandito ako and I cannot help Filipinos who are struggling even just to exist and not live,” he said.
“A human being should never, never be a commodity that is just left behind to rot. These are human beings and Filipinos,” he added.
Reports said around 400,000 seafarers are reportedly stranded on ships amid the health and travel restrictions imposed by some governments across the globe.
Filipinos are reportedly among those stranded seafarers who have overrun their contracts but could not return home due to the pandemic.