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Philippines asks manning agencies to ensure safety of seamen

Manila: Officials from the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment have met with manning agencies and representatives of shipping firms to ensure the safety of Filipino seamen onboard vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden, write AFP and Businessworld Online.

Manning agencies have been requested to adhere to security directives when plying the Gulf of Aden in Somalia to prevent additional abductions of Filipino seamen - There are currently 105 Filipinos being held captive after 17 seamen were released by Somali pirates last week and there have been 227 Filipino seafarers kidnapped by Somali pirates since 2006.

"We asked [the manning agencies of ships] to ensure that their ships traverse the affected areas only along this security corridor and preferably to do so in convoy formation," Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban B. Conejos, Jr is quoted as saying. "We have also asked the Philippine Navy and the Department of National Defense to immediately dispatch a naval liaison officer to the Combined Maritime Forces in Manama, Bahrain as the Philippine contribution to this campaign."

The Philippines is also reportedly mulling a deployment ban on ships passing through the Gulf of Aden in order to ensure safety of its nationals serving as crew. A similar ban on deployment to Somalia was recommended last year due to security issues.  [20/04/09]

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