The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday assured that the Philippine government is closely monitoring the situation of 20 Filipino crewmen detained in Libya for alleged involvement in fuel smuggling.
“The DFA has instructed our embassy in Tripoli to closely monitor the situation and extend all necessary assistance to our kababayans (countrymen),” DFA spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said in a statement.
Bolivar added that they will issue more updates as soon as the DFA gets the embassy’s full report.
On Monday, the Libyan navy reported that it seized an oil tanker near the maritime border of Tunisia and detained the Filipino crew on board the vessel.
Navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem said in a report by Agence France Press that the vessel was intercepted on Sunday off Abu Kamash, 170 kilometers (110 miles) west of Tripoli, and its crew were brought to the capital to appear before the prosecutor general.
The Liberian-flagged tanker belonging to a Greek company was loaded with six million liters (1.5 million gallons) of contraband fuel, Kacem said.
Plunged into conflict and political chaos since a 2011 revolution that ousted and killed Libya’s longtime leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, oil smuggling to Tunisia, Malta and Tunisia has become a lucrative trade. JPV