MANILA The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday confirmed that the nine seafarers who were kidnapped from a cargo ship off the coast of Benin in west Africa are all Filipinos.
"The Philippine Government is actively monitoring the reported piracy incident that occurred somewhere in Benin that led to the kidnapping of nine Filipino seafarers," the DFA Assistant Secretary Eduardo Menez said in a statement.
He added that the DFA is in close contact with the seafarers' manning agency and joins the relatives' call to ensure their safety and security.
The nine were on board a cargo ship owned by Norwegian shipping company J.J. Ugland when they were taken by pirates off coast in Benin.
In its statement, the shipping company said its emergency response team is handling the situation as per contingency plans, and that they are in contact with relevant authorities.
"The ongoing incident is a serious situation for Ugland, especially our seafarers. We are doing everything we can to bring the nine crewmembers taken off the ship back to safety. A�ystein Beisland, President, underscores that this is our highest priority," the company said in a statement dated November 4.
"The families of the crewmembers have been contacted and will be kept informed by Ugland," it added.
Following the abduction, a new case of kidnapping off Togo was also reported involving four seamen, two of whom are Filipinos, but the DFA said it will have to verify the news first before it releases a statement.
"In both cases we don't have an embassy in the countries where the incidents happened so we have to work through hour embassy in Abuja, Nigeria and their network," Menez said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency