RP appoints naval officer to Maritime Combined Force on Somalia

July 11, 2009 7:26 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, July 11 –The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) today announced that a Philippine Navy officer has been designated as liaison officer with the Combined Maritime Forces based in Manama, Bahrain, in connection with maritime and piracy issues in the Gulf of Aden/Somalia and the Indian Ocean.

But DFA did not name the naval officer, who would be working through the Philippine embassy in Bahrain.

The combined force is a multinational undertaking involving the United States, the United Kingdom, India and other maritime and naval forces conducting maritime security operations throughout the region.

The appointment is the Philippines’ contribution to international efforts to stem piracy, according to DFA Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr.

Conejos made the announcement as he reiterated government efforts to secure the safe and early release of 44 Filipino seafarers still held hostage by Somalian pirates.

“We are aware that negotiations continue and that all 44 Filipinos are unharmed. We continue to hope and pray for a positive outcome,” he said.

The designation of a Filipino navy officer came just weeks after Japan approved the deployment to the beleaguered maritime region of personnel of its Self- Defense Force. Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura said the move would also protect Filipino seafarers, who compose 70 percent of the crew of Japanese vessels plying the perilous sea route.

DFA also reiterated its stand that until the security situation has stabilized in the area, Filipino seafarers are asked not to work with vessels passing through the route. (PNA)

scs/GJB

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