The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said it has launched efforts to secure the release of 20 Filipino seafarers detained by the Libyan navy on suspicion of fuel smuggling.
"The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli has been directed to make sure they get urgent access to our detained seafarers, to extend all possible assistance and to secure their release and bring them home as soon as possible," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.
The DFA has also reached out to the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for access to the detained Filipino sailors.
On Sunday, the Libyan navy seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker carrying 6 million liters of oil near the maritime border with Tunisia and detained its Filipino crew.
Plunged into conflict and political chaos since a 2011 revolution that ousted and killed Libya's longtime leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi, oil smuggling to Tunisia, Malta and Tunisia has become a lucrative trade.--With reports from Agence France-Presse