RP seeks membership in UN anti-piracy body

September 1, 2010 10:30 am 

MANILA Aug. 31 —- The Philippine Government is pushing for membership in the United Nations Contact Group Against Piracy, even as it urges the Security Council for global cooperation against the poverty-rooted scourge, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday.

In the meantime, another good news is that while there have been cases of ships being waylaid on the high seas by mainly Somalian pirates, DFA claimed that recently “there was no incident” wherein their Filipino crew members were hurt.

According to DFA, 542 Filipino seafarers manning 45 vessels have been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden since 2006. Of the number, 461 seafarers and 39 vessels have been released, it added.

DFA said efforts are being made to rescue those still in activity through domestic and multilateral channels, including joint activities with the Bahrain-based Joint Naval Foces in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean and via membership in anti-piracy groups.

DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs closely coordinates with the relevant Philippine embassies and manning agencies to ensure the safety and well-being of the captives and for their salaries released to their families despite their absence.

Since direct negotiations with pirates particularly on ransom demands are widely considered as standing government policy, DFA coordinates with agencies and the ships’ principals for their direct undertaking in securing the safe release of the ships and its crew.

“The security, protection and welfare of Filipino seafarers have always been the primary concerns of the Philippine Government,” said Carlos Sorreta of the Philippine mission to the United Nations in New York.

In an address at the UN Security Council Meeting on August 25, Sorreta said he believes these are the same concerns of other countries with nationals serving on hijacked ships.

In calling for greater global action, Sorreta cited the importance of giving due regard to the victims, saying "beyond ships and cargoes, there is the crew."

"Many suffer prolonged captivity, some (for) as long as ten months. It is a testimony to their courage, clear thinking and fortitude that they survive. It is a tribute to their resilience and that of their families that many are able to return to the sea," he added.

Sorreta also recognized that the root causes of piracy can be found in the current political and security situation in Somalia.

"Piracy is a grave threat to international security and we join others in citing the importance of addressing its roots causes through a comprehensive approach. We are grateful to the many countries involved and committed to this task," he pointed out. (PNA) >br> V3/GJB

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