Philippines bans deployment of Filipino seafarers on ships transiting Red Sea, Gulf of Aden

MANILA: The Philippine government on Wednesday (April 24) banned the deployment of Filipino seafarers on passenger and cruise ships transiting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden due to the risk of sailing in those regions.

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) issued the order after 23 Filipino sailors were either killed or taken hostage in recent months.

"The move comes after recent amendments to the International Transport Workers' Federation and International Bargaining Forum list of 'high-risk areas' and 'war-like zones' to include the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden," the order said.

The DMW added that the order also results from collective discussions between its office and the Philippine Maritime Industry Tripartite Council, in which they "underscore the urgent need for stricter protocols to ensure the safety of Filipino seafarers navigating the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden."

The DMW requires licensed manning agencies to sign an "affirmation letter" guaranteeing that the vessels their seafarers board will not navigate the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden.

"The stringent measure ensures a transparent process, fostering accountability and compliance with the new safety protocols," the DMW added.

At least 21 Filipino seafarers were still in the hands of hostage-takers.

The Iranian forces have yet to free the four Filipino sailors who were among the crew of a container ship they seized in the Persian Gulf on April 13.

In November last year, 17 Filipino seafarers were taken hostage after an Israeli cargo ship was hijacked by Yemen's Houthi militants in the Red Sea.

In March, two Filipino sailors were killed in a missile strike by Houthi militants on a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, off southern Yemen.

The Philippines is among the biggest suppliers of maritime labor in the world, providing almost one-fifth of the 1.2 million seafarers worldwide, according to the International Labor Organization. - Xinhua

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