MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday announced that its Office of Migrant Workers’ Affairs is currently working with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on proper notification and extension of appropriate assistance to the families of the 16 Filipino seafarers who were held hostage by Somali pirates after their Panama-flagged tanker MV Polar hijacked off the east African state of Somalia over the weekend.
“We are confident that the principals of the MV Polar can make arrangements as soon as possible for the release of the vessel and its crew,” DFA spokesman Ed Malaya said in a text message to the Manila Bulletin.
The latest hijacking brought to 110 the total of Filipino seamen being held captive by Somali pirates in the risky region.
Only last week, a Greek-owned and Singaporean-flagged chemical tanker MT York was also hijacked by Somali pirates.
Fourteen Filipino seamen are on board the vessel.
The Philippines is the world’s leading supplier of ship crew with over 350,000 sailors, constituting a fifth of the world’s seafarers, manning oil tankers, luxury liners, and cargo vessels worldwide, exposing them to piracy attacks.