DFA: Iran to free abducted seafarers | Global News

DFA: Iran to free abducted seafarers

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:20 AM January 15, 2024

WAR ZONE A Houthi guard rues the destruction of a barracksin Sana’a, Yemen, at the start of the country’s civil war. —REUTERS

WAR ZONE A Houthi guard rues the destruction of a barracks in Sana’a, Yemen, at the start of the country’s civil war. —REUTERS

Iran has confirmed that it is in custody of 18 Filipino seafarers who were onboard an oil tanker that Tehran “seized” on Jan. 11, but they are working to have the crewmen released “as soon as possible,” according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Foreign Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said in a television interview on Saturday that Iranian Ambassador Yousef Esmaeil Zadeh has assured the DFA that the abducted seafarers were not harmed or mistreated although they were being held against their will.


The 18 Filipinos were crew members of the M/T St. Nikolas, which was ferrying Iraqi oil to Turkey when it was seized, supposedly under an Iranian court order, by the Iranian Navy off the Gulf of Oman.


The seizure was supposedly in retaliation for the United States’ seizure last year of the same vessel, which was then named M/T Suez Rajan, allegedly because it violated international sanctions on Iran.

“The Iranian ambassador assured that they will work on it so that they will be released as soon as possible. The ambassador has promised assistance,” De Vega said in the DFA’s first statement on the abduction since Jan. 11.

“Usually based on previous experience, whenever this happens, they don’t harm the Filipino crewmen,” he added.

Galaxy Leader crew

De Vega, however, made no mention of the 17 Filipinos who were onboard the car carrier M/V Galaxy Leader, which was seajacked by Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Nov. 19 near the Yemeni port of Hodeida.

The Galaxy Leader was one of several vessels that were attacked by Houthi rebels, supposedly in support of Hamas terrorists who attacked Israeli communities on Oct. 7 and started the ongoing Hamas-Israel war.

The Galaxy Leader crew were supposedly able to contact their families last December, but there has been no update about them since then.


Department of Migrant Workers Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne Caunan explained on Saturday that the government could not reveal details in deference to the victims’ families and because of ongoing negotiations.

“I hope you understand that I cannot divulge details, but what I can say is that we were informed that our seafarers are in good condition,” she said. “Negotiations are underway and the DFA is taking the lead.”

Caunan said that the DFA will give an update on the condition of the Filipino seafarers in the coming days, particularly on the ongoing negotiation for their release.

‘Prosperity Guardian’

But the release of the Filipino seamen, particularly the 17 Galaxy Leader crew who are believed to be held in Yemen, has become more urgent because of the military operation against Houthi rebels, who have disrupted shipping from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden to the Persian Gulf.

The United States and United Kingdom formed a coalition to stop the Houthi attacks that have already affected shipping through the Suez Canal and threaten the safety of mariners, including about 1.2 million Filipino seafarers.

In an operation dubbed “Prosperity Guardian,” US and UK fighter jets and Navy vessels have struck 60 strategic targets at 16 locations in Yemen and over 100 “precision-guided munitions of various types” have been used.

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The strikes were against “command and control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities, and air defense radar systems,” according to the US Air Forces Central Command. INQ

TAGS: abducted seafarers, Department of Foreign Affairs, Filipino seafarers, PH-Iran relations

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