More than the ordeals they suffered and experienced from the hands of their Somali oppressors who hijacked their vessel four years ago, the five (5) Filipino crew onboard MV Nahan 3 will return to the Philippines to be reunited with their loved ones. .
The distressed sea-based workers are scheduled to be home tomorrow, Friday, 28 October via Emirates EK 332, at 4:30 in the afternoon. The group will be welcomed and be given assistance by the officials and representatives of the government headed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). The families of the repatriated workers will likewise be at the airport to meet them.
According to OWWA Officer-in-Charge Carmelina F. Velasquez, the 5 Filipino crew, namely; Arnel Pregillana Balbero, Elmer Salvador Balbero, Ferdinand Jacinto Dalit, Akes Tininggal Edwas Jr., and Antonio Auxtero Libres Jr., will be accorded assistance by the OWWA Repatriation Team upon arrival at the airport, going through documentation process at the Immigration and Customs, and shall provide accommodation.
Aside from airport assistance and accommodation, OWWA’s support to the repatriated Filipino seafarers will include the provision of transportation fares to their respective hometowns where they will also be recommended to undergo psycho-social counseling as part of their ‘healing process’.
“We imagine the nightmare that our ‘kababayans’ went through all those times, so much so that we wish that they, together with their families, will be able to adjust and be back to their normal lives. We are thankful that they at last, are able to come home safely,” OIC Velasquez said.
OIC Velasquez added that the advise on the arrival of the Filipino seamen came from the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Affairs’ (OUMWA) Officer-in-Charge Reynaldo A. Catapang. The release of the 26-man crew, explained Velasquez, was through the auspices of Oceans Beyond Piracy, a project of One Earth Foundation, which spearheaded the negotiation.
The crew was received by Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Jesus I. Yabes, along with Philippine Embassy in Nairobi Charge d’ Affaires Uriel R. Galibay and other DFA officials at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Negotiations for the release of the seafarers started immediately after their captivity in 2012.
News surrounding the release of the hostages stated that the five Filipinos were among the 29-man crew victimized by the Somali pirates when their vessel was seized on March 26, 2012, while passing through the Indian Ocean. Aside from the Filipinos, other victims of the unfortunate incident included Cambodian, Chinese, Indonesian,Taiwanese and Viatnamese nationalities.