Five Filipino seafarers held captive by Somali pirates since 2012, set to return home

Five (5) Filipino seafarers were received by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs Jesus I. Yabes, together with Philippine Embassy in Nairobi Charge d'Affaires Uriel Norman R. Garibay and other DFA officials, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon arriving in Nairobi after four and a half (4.5) years of captivity in the hands of Somali pirates.

Arnel Pregellana Balbero, Elmer Salvador Balbero, Antonio Auxtero Libres, Jr., Edwas Akes Tininggal, Jr., and Ferdinand Jacinto Dalit were among the 29-man crew of the Omani-flagged FV Naham 3 that was hijacked on March 26, 2012 while traversing the Indian Ocean some 65 nautical miles south of Seychelles. Other than the five Filipinos, the crew was made up of Cambodian, Chinese, Indonesian, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese seafarers. Of the 29, one died during the hijacking while two others succumbed to illnesses while in captivity.

"We are pleased that the five Filipinos are now with us and that they are safe. We have scheduled them for medical tests and psychological debriefing to at least start their way to a full recovery from this ordeal," said Undersecretary Yabes. Efforts for their release began immediately after their capture in 2012 with Oceans Beyond Piracy, a project of One Earth Future Foundation, spearheading the negotiation. However, due to several security issues and the multi-national component of the case, it took a long time for the case to be resolved.

The five Filipinos will be turned over officially to Undersecretary Yabes and the DFA on Tuesday, October 25, after undergoing medical checkup and will be repatriated back to the Philippines on October 27, where they will be met by Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr. and their families.

Source: Philippine Information Agency

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