Pirates Hijack Tanker With Filipino Seamen Onboard

by Kobakila News

Lome, TOGO —  Sea pirates hijacked a Cyprus-flagged and Norwegian-managed tanker with 14 Filipino seafarers onboard MT Mattheos last Wednesday, Sept. 14.

The Spanish owners of tanker MT Mattheos are hoping pirates just want to steal the crude, rather than hold the 23-member crew hostage for ransom.

Consultores de Navegacion spokeswoman Sheena Campbell said Thursday that the company had not heard from the ship since it was hijacked Wednesday. “The normal case is that the only thing they are interested in is robbing the boat”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed the incident and said that the vessel’s local manning agency has reported that all crew members are well and safe.

DFA Secretary Albert F. del Rosario has instructed the Philippine Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria to make represetations with the Nigerian authorities for the safe rescue of the Filipino seafarers.  In addition, the Philippine Embassay in oslo, Norway was also instructed to coordiate with the vessel’s principal to ensure that negotiations for the release of the Filipino seafarers is being undertaken.

Several incidents of kidnapping of Filipino seafarers have occurred in the past. Recently, in July 2011 20 Filipino crew members onboard MT Anema E Core were seized and eventually released after 4 days of captivity. 

Of the 104 Filipinos who have been kidnapped off the coast of West Africa since February 2006, 88 Filipinos have been released, two are still missing, and 14 are being held captive.

Off the coast of Somalia, a total of 32 Filipino seafarers onboard five vessels have been held captive as of date.

The Philippine government has undertaken measures to minimize the exposure of Filipino seafarers to piracy attacks, including making arrangements with ship principals and manning agencies for vessels to travel along a safety corridor and to adopt best management practices as a deterrence to piracy attacks.

It has likewise  taken up the issue of maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Aden and in the Indian Ocean before the United Nations and other international organizations. The Philippines is a member of the intergovernmental Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).

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