President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered the foreign affairs department on Tuesday to work for the immediate release of Filipino seamen who were among the crew of an oil tanker seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia.Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Arroyo also ordered other concerned agencies to ensure that the families of the Filipino hostages are fully informed about the incident.
‘’The president has instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to look into this report and to work for the release of the Filipino crew members through proper diplomatic channels,’’ he said.
‘’She (Arroyo) has also talked the Department of Labor and Employment to work closely with the DFA in making sure that the families of these Filipino hostages are fully briefed on the efforts to secure the safety of their loved ones,’’ he added.
Initial reports said a United Arab Emirates-registered oil tanker with 19 Filipino crewmen on board were seized on March 29 by heavily armed pirates, who were demanding a huge sum of money in exchange for the vessel’s release.
The pirates were reportedly holding the seized vessel inside Somalia’s territorial waters, considered among the most dangerous areas due to the presence of heavily armed gangs capable of offshore attacks.