The 13 Filipino seafarers who previously went viral in social media due to reportedly being abandoned by their employer at a Chinese port have finally been repatriated to the Philippines.
The seamen, wearing full personal protection gear, were flown home via a China Southern Airlines flight. They arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 at 10:55 a.m. Thursday, July 22.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said that for the past 18 months, the Filipinos have been stranded aboard their ship, M/V Angelic Power, which had been docked at Guishan Port in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China.
The vessel’s occupants became stranded after the ship owner was embroiled in a commercial dispute over the carrying of goods at sea. The Guangzhou Maritime Court ordered the seizure of MV Angelic Power on April 14, 2021.
The Filipinos weren’t able to get off due to China’s strict measures that prevented foreign seafarers from disembarking a vessel, unless it was an emergency situation.
The Filipinos claimed that they were “abandoned” by the ship owner.
“We are happy that we finally arrived here in our country. We thank all people who helped us especially the media and the authorities who paid attention of us,” said one of the seafarers in Lester Abrigo.
Another repatriated seaman, Jonald Salubillo, shared: “Grabe ang hirap ng aming kalungkutan sa barko dahil 18 months kami sa barko kaya grabe ang pangungulila sa aming pamilya (The sadness aboard the ship was so hard to bear, we were there for 18 months, that’s why we miss our families very much).”