Sen. Franciso “Tol” Tolentino recently filed a resolution calling for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to coordinate with the Islamic Republic of Iran to inquire on the condition of 12 Filipino seafarers arrested by Iranian authorities on September 8, 2019.
The 12 Filipino seamen were on board a tugboat carrying petroleum worth $2.2 million when they were nabbed at the Strait of Hormuz waterway. Their vessel was, likewise, seized by the Iranian authorities, who suspected that they were involved in oil smuggling.
The Strait of Hormuz lies between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and is considered one of the world’s most strategically important navigational straits.
In another incident, Iranian authorities seized an oil tanker, MT Stena Impero, which had a Filipino crew member on board, for allegedly breaking international maritime rules on July 19, 2019.
Tolentino reiterated that authorities must ensure the safety of Filipino seafarers as they are the key contributors to the Philippine economy, community and their families.
“It is our responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of our seafarers. They are among our countrymen who have ventured into foreign lands in their quest for better lives, far away from their families and loved ones. They are the country’s new heroes and let’s make sure that their sacrifices won’t end into naught,” the neophyte senator said in Filipino.
Image credits: Hasan Shirvani/Mizan News Agency via AP