TWO OF 11 Filipino seafarers who have been reported abducted in two separate incidents in the West African countries of Benin and Togo have been verified, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) reported on Tuesday.
DoLE said their employment agency, Eastern Ocean Maritime Corp., confirmed that the Greek-flagged vessel MT Elka Aristotle was boarded by pirates.
The two, identified as Second Officer Elmer L. Padecio and Seaman Rene M. Lazaga, were on board the oil tanker in Togo along with two others, a Greek and a Georgian.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday that it is still confirming reports of the two incidents.
On the other incident, “The Philippine Government is actively monitoring the reported piracy incident that occurred somewhere in Benin that led to the kidnapping of nine Filipino seafarers,” the DFA said in a statement.
Reuters on Monday reported that nine crew members aboard a Norwegian-flagged vessel were abducted by pirates in Benin.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Martin R. Meñez told reporters that the DFA is monitoring the incident through the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria.
“In both cases, we don’t have an embassy in the countries where the incidents happened so we have to work through our embassy in Abuja, Nigeria and their network,” Mr. Meñez said in a message sent by phone.
“There are also special considerations to follow in cases of abductions of our nationals abroad,” he added.
The DFA also said it has already communicated with the crewmen’s employment agencies.
The Philippines accounts for more than a third of some 1.5 million seafarers worldwide, according to DoLE’s data as of 2015. — Charmaine A. Tadalan