MANILA — The repatriation of 29 Filipino seafarers who were stranded in China for months after being abandoned by their employer has been completed, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.
In a statement, the DFA said eight of the 29 seafarers arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 3:40 a.m. on Wednesday, while the last two landed at 9:40 a.m.
The first batch of the seafarers returned home last Dec. 2 while the others were repatriated over the weekend.
"We recognize the contribution of our seafarers not only to the Philippine economy but also to the global maritime industry. Rest assured that the DFA is closely monitoring and taking each case seriously," said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola.
The seafarers were on board three Han Rong fishing vessels when they were abandoned by their employer Global Maritime and Offshore Resources Inc., and its Chinese principal, Jenn Yih Song Seafood LTD, in May.
The DFA explained that it took months of negotiations before the vessels were permitted to debark at a port in China.
"We are grateful for the patience and service of our consulates in Shanghai, Xiamen, and Guangzhou for this accomplishment," Arriola said.
As of writing, the DFA has facilitated the return of around 440,000 Filipinos since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
The department is set to mount flights this month in Shanghai, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in addition to scheduled repatriations in the Middle East and Europe.