Depressed and worn out, 11 Filipino seafarers from the ship Ocean Star 86 have been pleading to the Duterte government for immediate repatriation after being stranded at sea for 1 year and 9 months. Their contracts have already expired in 2019 and yet they continue to be forced to work inside the ship under subhuman conditions. Forced to drink seawater and fed inadequately for many months, they felt some sort of relief during their ship’s dockage at Dongshan’s port in China. However, they fear that it is only temporary and that the ship will be navigating all over again back into the seas.
The seafarers recently reported their plight to the Philippine consulate in Xiamen but the only response they got was, “Congratulations! What’s the problem and why are you calling us?.” A letter was likewise sent by Migrante International this week to the Department of Foreign Affairs and their case has already been publicized in the media as early as June this year but their pleas have been falling on deaf ears. The Philippine consulate in Xiamen, DFA and the Duterte government all behave as if they know nothing about the afflictions tormenting these stranded seafarers.
During a visit by DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to the dolomite strip which the government claims to be good for mental health, he uttered more concern for the moat of the US Embassy as he vowed to fix its filling. Is the moat of the US Embassy even more important than the lives of his fellow Filipinos who are now at the end of their ropes? The Duterte regime wasted Php 2 Billion for a newly purchased aircraft intended to transport “senior leaders and commanders, especially in the event of a crisis,” but not a single cent has been spent so far for the repatriation of these 11 wretched seafarers who are right now being battered to near fatality by a raging crisis. This is not only indifference but gross inutility on the part of the Duterte regime. Indonesian crews of the same ship already have scheduled flights back to their country so we do not want to hear any of the Duterte government’s rubbish excuses for its inaction.