PHL working for safe release of Pinoy sailors abducted in Yemen
"Our cisis management [team] in Sanaa, Yemen is getting in touch with Yemen authorities (Ministry of Foreign affairs, Ministry of Interior and Maritime Security) Philippine honorary consul in Marib, their employer, and Filipino leaders to verify the report and ascertain their identities," DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a text message on Friday.
"Our team will meet with concerned government officials to ensure the safe and early release of the hostages," he added.
A report of the news site Khaleej Times on Thursday said the sailors were seized as they were about to embark on their ship at a port in the far-eastern province of Mahrah.
The kidnappers, who belong to the Bani Jabr tribe, demanded the “release of one of their own, who is in prison in Sanaa for a serious criminal offense,” the interior ministry of Yemen said.
No details were provided yet about the identity of the sailors nor about the company they are working for.
The report said the Filipinos were forced to travel by land as a sand storm cancelled flights.
The interior ministry said security forces were ordered to “quickly free the hostages and arrest their kidnappers.”
Second kidnapping of foreigners in Yemen
The kidnapping of the three Filipinos was said to be the second such incident involving foreigners.
Just days ago, on March 14, the report said a Swiss foreign language teacher in the Red Sea port of HodeÃ¯da was seized by gunmen from her home.
In her case, the kidnappers were also demanding for the release of their jailed colleagues.
On Tuesday, a tribal chief who offered to help secure her release, said the kidnapped Swiss woman was safe and in good health.
The report quoted a Yemeni security official as saying “the kidnapping bears the hallmark of Al-Qaeda.”
Khaleej Times said more than 200 people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years.
Many of the kidnapping victims belonged to the country’s powerful tribes.
The kidnappers reportedly use them as bargaining chips to achieve their demands.
The report said almost all of the kidnapped victims were later freed unharmed.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in January this year said 769 Filipino sailors aboard 63 vessels have been held captive since 2006, mostly in the pirate-infested waters off Somalia.
Some 400,000 Filipinos comprise one-fourth of the estimated 1.5 million merchant mariners worldwide.
— LBG/VVP, GMA News