On 'Day of the Seafarer', stranded Filipino seamen in China reiterate call for help

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 25 2020 06:05 PM | Updated as of Jun 25 2020 08:10 PM

On 'Day of the Seafarer', stranded Filipino seamen in China reiterate call for help 1
Stranded Filipino seafarers have been drinking rusty water as they continue to wait for assistance from both the Philippines and the Chinese governments while aboard vessel Fu Yuan Yu 7881 in Fuzhou, Fujian, China. Photo courtesy of Pinoy seamen onboard Fu Yuan Yu in China

MANILA (UPDATE) - On a day when seafarers are being honored as heroes, Filipino seamen appealed anew Thursday to be rescued from being stranded in China.

A group of 24 Filipino seafarers who have been stuck in Fuzhou in China's Fujian province for three months already directed their call to President Rodrigo Duterte as the world marks the Day of the Seafarer.

“Mahal naming Pangulong Mister Rodrigo Duterte, nanghihingi po kami ng tulong dahil po wala pang aksyon sa amin dito sa China," Joe Velarde, one of the Filipino seamen who are stranded aboard Fu Yuan Yu 7881, said in a video message sent to ABS-CBN.

(Our dear President Mr. Rodrigo Duterte, we are appealing for help because we have not received action from China.)

"Kahit ang mga supply namin, hindi pa dumarating. Masama na ang pakiramdam namin dito, parang stressed na kami dahil sa mga pamilya namin kasi wala na kaming sahod," Velarde said, adding even their food and water is a problem.

(Even our supplies have yet to arrive. We feel stressed here because we have no salary to send to our families.)

"Puro kalawang iyong iniinom kasi namin dito. Wala kasing aksyon ang ginagawa ng China sa amin."

(We are drinking rusty water. China is not taking any action.)

Aside from asking for such supplies as food, water, and medicine, the seamen are pleading to be repatriated home.

Last Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was working on bringing home the stranded Filipino seafarers.

In a text message, Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez of the DFA Office of Strategic Communication and Research said the Chinese government has been refusing to allow the ship to dock, which will then enable the Philippines to repatriate the seamen.

Meñez assured the DFA is working on the issue.

Chinese regulation prohibits foreign seafarers from disembarking.

Another group of 11 Filipino seamen aboard Ocean Star 86, moored off Dogshan, Zhangzhou City, also in Fujian Province, is awaiting repatriation.

Through migrant workers' group Migrante, a third group of 8 stranded seafarers aboard the He Li 1 Hao fishing vessel, also in Fujian Province, sent a video with the same appeal for repatriation to Duterte.

Angelito Palacio, the group’s spokesperson, said they have not received any pay for more than a month already.

“Nananawagan po kami sa ating mahal na Pangulo Rodrigo Duterte at sa lahat ng ahensiya ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas na sana po ay matulungan niyo kami makauwi agad kasi matagal na po kaming stranded sa China,” Palacio said.

(We call on our beloved President Rodrigo Duterte and to all other agencies of the government to help bring us home because we have been stranded here in China for a long time already.)

On the 10th celebration of the Day of the Seafarer, the International Maritime Organization, of which the Philippines is a member along with 173 other states, hails seafarers as "key workers" who must be provided "with the support, assistance and travel options open to all key workers during the pandemic."

"Many seafarers have been away from home for months and are unsure when they will be able to return home due to travel restrictions," the IMO said.

"The (2020 Day of the Seafarer) campaign encourages everyone to treat seafarers with the respect and dignity they deserve so that they can continue to provide their vital services to keep world trade moving," it added.