MANILA – Around 70 Filipino seafarers are still stranded in the waters off the ports of China as their employers face financial problems, topped with stringent Chinese measures preventing them to disembark, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana reported Saturday.
“It’s roughly less than a hundred, mayroon nang nakauwing isang grupo just last month (It’s roughly less than a hundred, we have a group who returned home last month) and in the case of some of the seafarers, they were waiting for several months off the coast of southern China,” he said in the Laging Handa briefing.
Sta. Romana said Manila is now working to facilitate the safe return of “several dozens” of Filipino sailors who remain stuck there for weeks, adding that the repatriates could be repatriated by November 2020.
“We’re prepared for roughly a hundred or so, we’ll see if it will grow further but one repatriation flight should do it,” he said.
Sta. Romana said most of the concerned seafarers were working on Chinese or foreign ships, but the companies employing them faced financial issues due to the pandemic, leaving them unable to disembark.
Chinese authorities have been about allowing seafarers to leave ships to prevent any imported cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country.
“Naghihintay lang sila sa barko at walang plano ‘yong may-ari. Because of financial problems, they cannot pay them or their contracts are over so that’s what we’re focusing on now,” the envoy said.
Apart from seafarers, Sta. Romana said “a little over a hundred” more distressed land-based OFWs are requesting assistance to be repatriated. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora /PNA – northboundasia.com