MANILA – Over 100 stranded Filipino seafarers from Fujian, China have arrived home, months after their ships were forced to anchor in the high seas.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the stranded Filipinos came from 9 Chinese fishing vessels and were not allowed to dock in any port, including China, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions imposed by countries around the world.
A number of them belonged to groups that have previously sent videos to ABS-CBN asking for President Rodrigo Duterte’s help to have them repatriated.
The seafarers arrived in Manila on Thursday on board carrier vessel Star Mariner.
The ship left Fujian, China July 11 with the 101 stranded Filipinos to fetch 10 other stranded seafarers and 2 remains on board another stranded ship in the Indian Ocean before proceeding to Manila. They left the waters off Singapore on July 18.
Upon arrival in Manila, the repatriates underwent COVID-19 swab testing as prescribed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on pandemic response and will be temporarily housed at government quarantine facilities for mandatory isolation while they await results of their RT-PCR test.
The DFA, through the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) and the Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen, the Philippine Ports Authority, the Department of Health's Bureau of Quarantine, Philippine Coast Guard, and Maritime Industry Authority, as well as the Chinese employer and concerned licensed manning agencies worked for their repatriation and arrival, in compliance with the Philippine and Chinese governments' health emergency protocols.
The DFA said it also coordinated with the seafarers and their families.
A group of 11 seafarers aboard Ocean Star 86 in Dongshan, also in Fujian, China was left behind.
The DFA said it would continue to monitor their condition and extend assistance to the remaining seafarers in Fujian “and will continue its efforts to negotiate with local authorities in China for their immediate repatriation to the Philippines.”