Blocked for nearly 5 months now, 29 Filipino sailors in China want to return home
By MARILOU DE CASTRO
MANILA – The families of the 29 Filipino sailors stranded off Xiamen, China for nearly five months now, call on the government to take them home, saying their pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears .
During an online press briefing organized by Migrante International, their families explained that the sailors who were on board three Chinese-flagged fishing vessels were supposed to return to the country in May 2021. However, they were prevented from entering the country. to dock in Singapore. The ship’s captain then took them to Xiamen, China, where they have been stranded ever since.
âWe have learned that they only eat once a day and that they get by with the frozen fish that has been in their freezer for two years. There are so many (in the fishing boat). They filter the water to remove the rust, âMyca Madla, sister of one of the 29 sailors, told the press conference.
Families have since knocked on the doors of the Foreign Office, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and even Congress to examine the situation of their loved ones. Even the recruiting agency, Global Marine Offshore and Resources, relatives said at the press briefing, are not answering their questions.
This prompted relatives to organize a protest action in front of the DFA on September 19.
They were first told that the stranded Filipino sailors, mostly beginners who had signed up for a monthly salary of $ 350, might be able to return by the first week of October.
In an online press conference last month, families of stranded sailors, alongside Sea Network, Migrante International, Concerned Seafarers of the Philippines, Amihan and the National Council of Churches of the Philippines, called on their loved ones to be rescued and repatriated.
Sea Network noted that other nationals, such as those from Myanmar and Indonesia, have already been repatriated by their governments.
âAs the company practically abandoned the crew and the captain of the Han Rong 366 even threatened to refloat the Filipinos in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, the life and safety of the crew are in danger. great peril. Even an earlier water delivery to Filipinos was blocked by the Chinese captain who confiscated drinking water. Even the SIM cards for the telephone communication of some of them have been confiscated by the Chinese captain, âSea Network said in a statement.
To be able to talk to loved ones, relatives pooled money for a mobile charge of $ 20. The stranded sailors would then share the data as a mobile hotspot so that anyone can contact their family and ask for help.
Families of stranded sailors have also expressed fears of contracting COVID-19.
Madla said, âMy brother was always texting me. They are getting impatient and they really want to go home. I ask the FDFA to keep its promise. I ask that they be repatriated immediately and that they receive the necessary medical care (attentions). ” (JJE, RTS)