Filipino killed, another missing, during attempt to rescue hijacked vessel

February 9, 2011 11:54 am 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Feb. 8 — A Filipino seafarer was killed and another was declared missing January 26, two days after an attempt by anti-piracy naval ships to rescue them and their German-owned vessel from the clutches of Somali pirates, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

The DFA reported that Farolito Vallega was reportedly shot to death “in a fit of anger” by the pirates, and that Elviro Salazar was missing after he jumped over board. Another Filipino who jumped overboard during the rescue mission, identified as Ferdinand Aquino, was eventually rescued by a Danish frigate.

The three were among the seven Filipino crew members of the 12-man German-owned “MV Beluga Nomination,” which was hijacked 390 nautical miles north of Port Victoria in the Seychelles on January 22.

Aside from the Filipinos, the other crewmembers are of Russian, Ukrainian and Polish descent. They are still held hostage by the pirates.

The DFA said it condemned “in no uncertain terms” the “unspeakable crime” against Vallega, described as “an innocent person merely doing his job and making an honest living for his family.”

”His death is an unspeakable crime against an innocent person and adds to the list of heinous crimes already committed by these pirates. We wish to convey our deepest condolences to his family,” it said.

In a statement, the DFA appealed for the release of the Filipinos and the other seafarers as it reiterated its strong support of measures that will further protect Filipino seafarers.

“The DFA supports more robust international action against piracy. We also call on vessel owners to adopt best management practices to deter piracy attacks,” the statement said.

The DFA said that a high-level interagency committee meeting was held on Monday at Malacanang, chaired by Deputy Executive Secretary Jose Amorado, which “looked into the implications of this incident on the safety of Filipino seafarers, especially those on board ships passing thru the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin.”

On February 17, DFA Undersecretary Esteban B. Conejos Jr. will attend the meeting of the United Nations Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in London to pursue this interest.

Conejos will also raise the serious concerns of the Philippines in light of the incident and strengthen current anti-piracy measures during a similar meeting on February 28 in Washington.

Both attendance were directed by the Amorado committee.

According to the DFA, these measures include closer coordination between the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and independent deployers, shorter rapid response time in coming to the aid of pirated vessels and improvement of best management practices. (PNA)

DCT/GJB

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