2 Pinoys among 5 seafarers held hostage in Nigeria –report
Five crew members of an oil tanker — two of them Filipinos — are believed to be being held hostage by separatist rebels off Nigerian waters, according to a US News report over the weekend.
The report, citing the Associated Press, said the rebels hijacked first the Greek-owned MT Leon Dias then took with them the crew members — the Filipino captain and third engineer, the Russian chief engineer and electrician, and a fitter from Georgia.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is still "awaiting official confirmation" from the Philippine Embassy in Abuja regarding the report.
The rebels were reportedly espousing an independent state of Biafra in southeast Nigeria.
The Philippines is one of the world's largest providers of shipping manpower in the world.
A bulk of Filipino seamen or more than 20 percent of the world’s 1.2 million sailors are manning oil tankers, luxury liners, and passenger vessels worldwide, exposing them to piracy attacks.
Piracy and ransom kidnappings of Filipino sailors have long been a problem for the Philippine government as it lacks the capacity to monitor their movements when at sea.
As a policy, the Philippine government does not negotiate nor pay ransom to kidnappers, but gives ship owners the free hand in negotiating for the release of abducted Filipino sailors. —KBK, GMA News