But the 12 Filipino seafarers who were forced to stay on board their ship that was grounded in Greece for “unpaid cargo claims” would have to ask harder, Akbayan Party-list Representative Walden Bello said on Tuesday.
For more than four months since July 12, the Filipino seafarers on board the Panama-flagged MV Aetea Sierra had not been permitted to step out of their vessel.
“It is bothering to know that, while the captain of the crew was allowed to leave, our seafarers were stuck inside the ship for months to come,” Bello said. “What we should recognize is that, time is of essence as their health conditions are rapidly deteriorating due to limited food and water.”
The seafarers reportedly told Bello that the Philippine Embassy in Greece “was very slow” in responding to their needs. Other government agencies like the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration were also slow in assisting them.
“They received not a single drop of water or a drop of morsel from the embassy,” Bello’s office added.
But Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ed Malaya told GMANews.TV that the department has already directed the office of Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao to attend to the concerns of the Filipino seafarers.
“We are already coordinating with the Embassy in Greece to look into their case,” Malaya said.
Bello however, is worried that the Philippine government is not fast enough to respond to the needs of the Filipino seafarers.
“Where is our sense of urgency?” Bello said.
The situation reached a tipping point, Bello said, when one of the seafarers, A/B Florvic Labaco of Quezon City, underwent emergency medical treatment “only after the Greek government allowed him to leave the ship for humanitarian reasons.” – GMANews.TV