February 28th, 2011

Filipino Seafarers Condemn killing in Somalia

Various maritime groups from the Philippines condemned the recent piracy incident in Somalia and North Arabian Sea which involved a number of Filipinos.

The officers and representatives of five national organizations belonging to the Joint Manning Group (JMG) and the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP-PTGWO-ITF) expressed their deep concern after learning that a Filipino crew member of the hijacked cargo vessel M/V Beluga Nomination was killed while members of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) were attempting to rescue the hostages from the Somali pirates.

The pirates in retaliation shot and killed the Filipino crewmember identified as Farolito Vallega while two others, also both Filipinos, managed to escape. Two other crew members, a European and a Filipino, were also reportedly missing after the incident and are now the subject of search-and- rescue (SAR) operations.

“We denounce this attack and killing with indignation and encourage others to do so if only to inform the global maritime community and the Filipino people that this atrocity is outrageous. We are one with the government in rightfully condemning the pirates’ lawless behavior and their senseless disregard for human life,” the group said.

The pirates still hold seven hostages, four of whom are Filipinos while the three others are East Europeans. A total of 17 Filipino seafarers were also held hostages by a group of pirates last Wednesday in the North Arabian Sea off Oman.

The European Union Naval Force (EU-NAVFOR) Somalia said the Greek-flagged vessel M/V Irene SL was 350 nautical miles southeast of Muscat when it was attacked.

Last Jan. 25, US Navy Capt. Chris Chambers, the chief-of-staff of the 25- nation CMF, sought the assistance of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the global fight against piracy at sea, particularly along the Gulf of Aden and Somali basin.

The CMF is a coalition of Naval and Coast Guard Forces from 25 countries which aims to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy, reduce illegal trafficking of people and drugs, and promote the maritime environment as a safe place for mariners with legitimate business.