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 RP names liaison with int値 anti-piracy task force

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PostSubject: RP names liaison with int値 anti-piracy task force   Mon Jul 13, 2009 5:22 pm

RP names liaison with int値 anti-piracy task force in Bahrain


MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has finally designated an officer to coordinate with an international anti-piracy contingent patrolling the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

Tasked to coordinate with the Combined Maritime Forces in Manama, Bahrain was a senior officer of the Philippine Navy, said Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr., who heads the Department of Foreign Affairs痴 office of migrant workers affairs.

Vice President Noli de Castro had pushed for a Philippine presence in the Combined Maritime Forces in view of the high number of Filipino seafarers manning the world痴 ocean-going vessels.

De Castro said the presence of a liaison officer should help speed up information-gathering on hijacking and abduction incidents involving Filipino seamen off Somalia.

Aside from coordination work, the assignment of a naval attach in the US fleet aims to 兎stablish a command" that will provide guidance and safety instructions to vessels with Filipino crew members passing through the danger zone of the Gulf of Aden.

According to the DFA, there are about 350,000 Filipino seafarers deployed all over the world, most of them on board ships that transit African waters, particularly the Gulf of Aden in the Horn of Africa.

In 2008, a total of 117 Filipino seamen on board 11 ships were seized by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. All have been freed eventually after ship owners paid ransom.

This year, Somali pirates also seized 233 Filipinos on board 16 vessels. Forty-four remain captive.

Meanwhile, Conejos said that they already exerting all efforts to secure the safe and early release of the remaining 44 Filipino seafarers currently being held hostage by pirates in Somalia.

展e are aware that negotiations continue and that all 44 Filipinos are unharmed. We continue to hope and pray for a positive outcome," he said.

Two more Filipino seafarers were seized last week by Nigerian militants, bringing the total number of Pinoy seamen held captive abroad to 46. [See: RP seamen held captive abroad climb to 46]

As a policy, the Philippine government does not negotiate directly with pirates.

However, Conejos said it 田oordinates closely" with concerned foreign authorities and the local manning agencies of the hijacked vessels to secure the early and safe release of the country痴 seafarers.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has said she has obtained assurance from Japan that it will help secure Filipino seafarers against pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

Japan痴 navy has sent a maritime patrol to the Indian Ocean to help secure its ocean-going merchant fleet.

At least one Japanese-flagged merchant vessel that was seized last year by Somali pirates had a mostly Filipino crew.

Leading the multinational task force is the United States Navy. Also involved are the navies of Russia, Germany, France, India and China. - Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV
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