FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. hosted lunch to welcome home 12 Filipino crewmen, whose ship was seized by Iranian authorities almost four months ago.

LOCSIN HOSTS SEAFARERS Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. welcomes back 12 Filipino seafarers, whose ship was seized by Iranian authorities in September 2019. Locsin hosted lunch for
the seamen and their families on Friday at the Department of Foreign Affairs. PHOTO BY DFA

“I am relieved to know that your ordeal is over,” Locsin said on Friday. “To reassure you, the Department [of Foreign Affairs or DFA] was working round the clock to make sure we get you out of harm’s way the soonest. Now that you are all here, as a manner of thanksgiving, we are having this lunch.”

The crew of the Al Buraq 1 were accompanied by their relatives.

Upon instructions from the DFA, the Philippine Embassy in Tehran monitored the condition of the seafarers, visited the detention center, provided welfare assistance and secured the necessary legal representation to effect the immediate release of the seafarers , whose ship was seized in September 2019.

The repatriation of the 10 Filipinos took place last Nov. 27 and Dec. 2, 2019, while the last two arrived in Jan. 5, 2020.

The crew’s offshore supply ship was held for alleged fuel smuggling.

During the luncheon, also attended by Undersecretaries Brigido Dulay and Sarah Lou Arreola, Locsin made known that the Foreign Affairs department was sending teams to Iraq, Iran, Libya and Lebanon to guarantee the speed of the repatriation and the safety of the Filipinos who would be brought home.|

“President [Rodrigo] Duterte already made an order because he cares. He calls them ‘my’ OFWs (overseas Filipino workers.’ The DFA is responding as efficiently and effectively. Such is the nature of our work with regards to assistance to nationals. We go there. We go in harm’s way so our kababayan (countrymen) like you are out of harm’s way. We go there so your rights are respected and protected. We go there so you are given the due process before the courts. We go there whenever, wherever, in the service of the Filipinos all over the world,” he said.

The seafarers and their kin expressed their profound thanks and appreciation. They also handed a letter of thanks to the President, which Locsin promised to hand to him personally.