Ten Filipino sailors were seized by gunmen off the Gulf of Guinea in two separate hijacking incidents, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
Two Filipino seafarers on board a Liberian-flagged container ship were among 11 crewmembers kidnapped by pirates who boarded their vessel on October 27, a DFA statement said, citing a report from the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria.
Another eight Filipino sailors of a Panamanian-registered tanker along with nine other crewmembers remain unaccounted for after their vessel was seized by pirates on October 29.
"It was not clear if the seafarers were taken by the same group of pirates who abducted seven Filipinos on board a Swiss-flagged vessel off Nigerian waters last month," the DFA said. The seven were released on Sunday.
Piracy and ransom kidnappings of Filipino sailors have long been a problem for the Philippine government as it lacks the capacity to monitor their movements when at sea.
The global shipping industry, which carries 80 percent of international trade, employs about 1.2 million seafarers, the bulk of whom come from the Philippines.
As a policy, the Philippine government does not negotiate nor pay ransom to kidnappers, but gives ship owners the free hand in negotiating for the release of abducted Filipino sailors. — RSJ, GMA News