MANILA — Eighteen Filipino seamen are appealing for help after they have been stranded aboard their ship off the coast of Baltimore, Maryland in the United States for quite some time due to engine problem of their vessel.
In an urgent message to this writer, Atty Arnedo Valera, co-director of the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), a Filipino-run non-profit organization based in Fairfax, Virginia that extends help to Filipinos in distress, said the seafarers have been “unpaid, hungry and very tired are badly in need of help.”
Adding more to their suffering is that the Pinoy seafarers have not seen their families since “haven’t been home for almost a year,” Valera said.
“18 Filipino seafarers have been stranded aboard a ship in Baltimore, Maryland. They are UNPAID, HUNGRY and VERY TIRED hence are in badly need of help. They haven’t been home for almost a year, ” he said.
The stranded ship manned by Filipino crewmen is operated by the Malta-based Newlead Granadino.
Valera said the ship has had engine trouble even before arriving in Baltimore where it was supposed to deliver asphalt.
“The plight of the stranded seafarers was brought to the attention of MHC by Mila M. Aguas, president of the Filipino Educators in Maryland, and Christian Angelo Rabaya Tabay,” he said.
Immediately, the MHC contacted Evans Elizabeth Brown , port agent of Seafarers International Union, to seek assistance to the plight of the Filipino seamen.
Another problem the Pinoy seafarers is that they have no US visas, hence they could not come down from their ship, he said.
Valera said he was delighted to know that despite the plight being experienced by the stranded seafarers, they are “still in their high spirits, a highly distinct characteristic of Filipinos of surviving and staying positive against all odds.”
“Nevertheless, the port agent confirmed the urgent need of help, particularly items that will protect them from the cold,” he pointed out.
“The most urgent items needed are cover alls and thick blankets to protect them from the chilly, cold and nearly freezing weather since the ship has no heater with its engine problems,” Valera said.
“Moreover, there is a big possibility that they will be stranded there throughout the entire winter in freezing weather on the coast since they are not legally allowed to come ashore,” he said.
MHC is appealing to anyone who would like to donate winter clothing.
Valera said MHC is trying to gain access to the stranded seafarers and is ready to extend free legal assistance to them through the Philippine Embassy and its Labor Attache in Washington, DC. Ben Cal/PNA-northboundasia.com