PH asks Iran to ensure release of Filipino aboard seized ship

MANILA � The Philippine government is establishing communication with Iranian authorities to ensure the safety and release of a Filipino who was among the 23 crewmen of a British-flagged tanker that was seized by Iranian authorities on July 19.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Saturday said it is actively monitoring the developments after it received reports that United Kingdom-registered MT Stena Impero was reportedly seized by Iranian authorities while transiting the Strait of Hormuz.

"Ambassador to Iran Fred Santos is contacting Iranian authorities to seek assurance that the Filipino seafarer is safe and will be released soon," the DFA, through Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Fernandez, said in a bulletin.

Aside from the Filipino seafarer, among the crew members onboard the vessel are 18 Indians, three Russians and a Latvian.

The DFA said the vessel was heading to the coast of Iran when it was boarded by "unidentified intruders following an approach by small crafts and a helicopter" while passing through the strait "in international waters."

Reports, on the other hand, cited Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as saying that the tanker was taken to an Iranian port for not complying with international maritime laws and regulations."

As of posting, the Philippine-based manning agency is providing the necessary assistance to the Filipino seafarer's next of kin while its foreign counterpart is in active coordination with the United Kingdom authorities on the whereabouts of the ship and the condition of the seafarers on board. It also noted that no injuries were reported.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. is optimistic about the safety of the Filipino in the custody of Iran.

"Iran has always treated Filipinos with the greatest consideration and the highest regard for their safety. They released two Filipino prisoners who were convicted of smuggling contraband, upon my request," he said on his official Twitter account reacting to a report that the Philippine Embassy in Iran is now coordinating with local authorities to make sure the seafarer is safe. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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