11 Pinoy seafarers stranded aboard vessel to be repatriated soon

Published September 25, 2020, 4:13 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Arrangements are being finalized for the repatriation of the remaining 11 Filipino seafarers who have been stranded in Chinese waters onboard MV Ocean Star 86 for several months now due to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) travel restrictions, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement on Friday.

The DFA’s statement came in response to allegations made by Migrante International that the pleas of the 11 stranded seafarers who were reportedly forced to work under subhuman conditions have been “falling on deaf ears.”

In belying Migrante’s claim, the DFA said the plight of the Filipino seafarers was first brought to the attention of the Philippine Consulate in Xiamen on April 22, 2020 when it received a letter from a certain ‘Jake Cruz’ through the Philippine Embassy in Beijing.

 Upon receipt of the letter, the Consulate immediately contacted the distressed seafarers through their team leader to ascertain their working, physical and mental conditions. 

 The DFA said packages containing ready-to-eat food and personal hygiene needs such as shampoo, soap and toothpaste were immediately prepared as requested by the Filipino seafarers.

 It was only this week when these care packages were sent to the distressed seafarers when the Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen learned that the vessel was finally allowed to dock without yet being permitted to disembark its crew.

 The DFA added that the Philippine Consulate General also made regular representations to Chinese authorities and ship owners for all Filipino seafarers stranded in the waters off the coast of Fujian province, including those onboard Ocean Star 86 and other Chinese vessels so that they be paid their salaries and other allowances.

“The DFA, through the Philippine Consulate General, is continuing to act on the needs of the 11 seafarers and will continue to exert utmost efforts to them, along with other stranded Filipinos in China in general, and in Fujian province, in particular,” the department said.

On Thursday, the migrant workers’ group demanded the immediate repatriation of the 11 seafarers in Dongshan, China and sought the filing of charges against their employers for subjecting the Filipinos to “horrendous suffering.”

 Migrante further claimed that the contracts of the seafarers already expired in 2019 but they were reportedly “forced to drink seawater and fed inadequately for many months.”