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DoLE reinforces safety measures for seamen

With piracy looming anew off the coast of Somalia, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has reinforced safety precautions governing Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) board resolution No. 5 providing for protection to Filipino seafarers on board vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito Roque said that labor officials have recently met with the International Maritime Employers’ Committee Ltd. (IMEC) based in London to step up efforts to protect ship owners and seaman manning vessels plying the pirate-infested waters.

“Ang challenge sa amin dito is that yung concentration is no longer in the Gulf of Aden. Nandon na rin sila sa ibang areas in the ocean in African mainland,’’ Roque said.

“We are bracing for more attacks because according to them pirates are operating when the seas are calmer,’’ he added. The Gulf of Aden is an area known for acts of piracy, making its waters dangerous for water transport.

In 2007, the International Maritime Bureau reported over two dozen actual and attempted attacks in the gulf off the coast of Somalia.

Last November 30, Somali pirates held 16 Filipino hostages and more than 200 other nationals. The seafarers were reportedly aboard the Greek-owned Maran Centaurus, a tanker carrying crude oil from Saudi Arabia to the United States.

In 2006, at least 20 Filipinos were seized in one incident and 10 in two attacks in 2007, news reports said.

Recently, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced the release by the pirates of a Filipino crew member who was on board the New Zealand-flagged MV Charelle.

By:  SHIANEE MAMANGLU

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