By Samuel P. Medenilla, September 8 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

THE government is now preparing its possible aid for the 12 Filipino seafarers from a ship earlier reported to be seized by the Iranian government for alleged fuel smuggling.

Citing initial reports, Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the incident is already being monitored by the Assistance to Nationals unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He said authorities are still awaiting additional information on the incident before the government can help the affected Filipino crew of the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker.

“We still have no additional information [on the incident] except for the confirmation the 12 seafarers were detained. The problem is we don’t even have their identities for now,” Bello said in a phone interview.

“We are anticipating they may need legal assistance, which we could extend to them,” he added.

According to the DFA, the case will likely be tried in the local court in Iran.

Green Village

In a related report, labor officials also said they also have yet to get word on the status of the reported  over 300 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were able to escape a suicide bombing attack of the Taliban in the “Green Village” in Afghanistan last week.

“We are still verifying their status,” Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) administrator Bernard P. Olalia told BusinessMirror in an SMS.

DOLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (Ilab) director Alice Q. Visperas said they usually rely on the DFA for information from Afghanistan due to the lack of a Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) there.

In a statement, recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani said he got reports the OFWs in the Green Village are currently safe.

The Green Village, he explained, is a heavily fortified zone in Kabul that hosts the offices of international organizations.

“Majority of them ran into their designated bunkers/ shelters strategically placed inside the residential compound near the Green Zone,” said Geslani of the OFWs’ escape from the mayhem, citing the Facebook page of the Samahang Pinoy sa Afghanistan (SPA).