Somali pirates have shot and killed a Filipino seafarer according to a statement from Philippine Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz.
She stated that pirates shot and killed Farolito Vallega, 48, on January 26 on board the MV Beluga Navigation, a German-owned ship registered in Antigua and Barbuda.
The information was belatedly relayed to the Department of Labor and Employment by the Beluga Nomination’s local manning agency, Marlow Navigation Philippines, Inc.
Baldoz, quoting a preliminary report from Marlow, said Vallega was shot dead by the pirates apparently in a “fit of anger” after an element of the Combined Maritime Forces, the international anti-piracy contingent patrolling the waters of the Gulf of Aden, tried to free the Beluga Nomination and rescue its crew.
The Beluga Nomination was hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Seychelles on January 22. The vessel has a 12-member crew, seven of them Filipinos, the rest Polish, Russian and Ukrainian. Vallega served as a bosun or boatswain, which is a non-licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship.
Of the seven Filipino seafarers, Ferdinand Aquino, 46, a cook, escaped by jumping overboard and was eventually rescued.
Another seaman, Elviro Salazar, 26, a wiper, was reported missing. The four other Filipinos remain captives of the pirates.
Baldoz said that according to Marlow, the captive seamen’s employers continue to negotiate for the release of all hostages and to undertake search and retrieval operation for the missing Salazar and the body of Vallega.
Baldoz, in a statement, condemned the killing. “We express outrage over this senseless disregard for human life and we condemn in the strongest possible terms the atrocity of the Somali pirates. We are also saddened by this tragic incident, and deeply condole with the family and relatives of the deceased Filipino seaman,” she said.
Baldoz added the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration was extending all possible assistance and monetary benefits to Vallega’s family.
She said she has also directed the OWWA to provide the necessary package of assistance to Aquino and his family, to the family of Salazar.
The manning agency was also working on the provision of the death benefits of Vallega and the continued allotment of the wages for the rest of the Filipino seamen.
Baldoz has discussed with its tripartite partners a plan of action containing measures on how to better safeguard and protect Filipino seafarers on board international vessels traversing the pirates-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
In a meeting last Saturday, officials of the DoLE, OWWA, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Maritime Training Council, the Joint Manning Group and the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines called for firmer, decisive international action against sea piracy.
The meeting reviewed and assessed current anti-piracy procedures and measures to come up with updated action plan on how to provide better protection to Filipino seafarers.
Among the recommendations were for the Department of Foreign Affairs to “strongly urge” the United Nations to review the existing mandate of the multinational forces in the Indian Ocean and empower such forces to take a more proactive role to combat piracy, and to encourage governments, whose flag the pirated ships are flying, to prosecute pirates if and when apprehended by the naval forces.