Cayetano vows 'all efforts' for kidnapped OFWs in Nigeria
MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano vowed on Monday, September 24, that the Philippines is "doing all the efforts" for 7 overseas Filipino workers reportedly kidnapped in Nigeria.
Reuters reported on Monday that pirates kidnapped 7 Filipino crew members of a Swiss vessel off the coast of Nigeria, along with 5 others, citing information from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
"I was informed that Reuters reported that, and we're doing all the efforts, but just like in Libya, please excuse us if we're releasing less news, because kidnapping is very sensitive," Cayetano said in a mix of English and Filipino, citing an earlier abduction of Filipinos in Libya.
Cayetano said it is first important to ascertain the conditions of the hostages, the identities of their kidnappers, and their kidnappers' demands.
He said the Philippine embassy in Libya has given him a report on this, but he has to relay this through a memo to President Rodrigo Duterte before announcing details to the public.
Reuters said the 12 crew members were abducted on Saturday, September 22, from a Swiss vessel "that was traveling between the cities of Lagos and Port Harcourt." The hostages come from "the Philippines, Slovenia, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, and Bosnia."
More than 10 million Filipinos work overseas to seek better opportunities and send back money to their families. Of this number, around 2.3 million work in the Middle East and Africa.
This is not the first time Filipinos were kidnapped by pirates off the Nigerian coast.
Reports showed there were at least 3 other times when Filipino seafarers were abducted:
- In 2007, when 24 Filipino crew were abducted from German-owned Baco Liner II
- May 2017, when 5 Filipinos were kidnapped
- October 2017, when 4 Filipinos were kidnapped
In 2013, a Filipino seafarer was also shot dead when his vessel was attacked by pirates.
Several kidnapping cases have also occurred in Nigerian waters. Risk analyst company EOS Risk Group said there have been 35 seafarers kidnapped in the first half of 2018 alone. – with reports from Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler.com