DFA chief seeks counterpart’s help on release of 7 sailors

MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said the Philippine government is actively monitoring the case of seven Filipino seafarers detained in Libya, with no less than DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. seeking the aid of his Libyan counterpart.

The statement came after an appeal made by the seven seafarers’ families asking President Rodrigo Duterte to facilitate their immediate release.

DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato said Locsin personally requested the assistance of Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Lufti Al-Maghrabi in securing their release when they met on the sides of the Global Compact for Migration meeting in Morocco last month.

The DFA chief also reiterated his request to Libyan embassy Chargé d’Affaires Ahmed Eddeb during a meeting at the agency last week, Cato said.

Cato noted that the Philippine embassy in Tripoli, under Charge d’Affaires Mardomel Celo Melicor, visited the seven and retained the services of a lawyer to represent them in court.

“The embassy has been assured by Libyan authorities that the seven are in good condition,” he said.

The seven were among the 20 Filipino seamen onboard the Liberian-flagged MT Levant, who were taken into custody by the Libyan Coast Guard in August 2017 on suspicion of fuel smuggling.

The charges against the 13 other crew were subsequently dropped and they were released in February 2018 while the seven MT Levent officers remained at the Mitiga airbase jail.  Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA – northboundasia.com