MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Sunday it would provide assistance to 12 Filipino seafarers after their boat was seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, Saturday.
The Philippine Embassy in Tehran is monitoring the incident, the DFA said in a statement.
"The Embassy is seeking further updates on the seafarers' condition, and stands ready to provide assistance when needed," it said.
The investigation of Iranian authorities on the alleged oil smuggling of the crew is ongoing and will be referred to the local court once done, according to Ambassador Wilfredo Santos.
The group was suspected of operating a fuel-smuggling ring and the confiscated shipment had been intercepted close to Sirik county in the Strait of Hormuz, Major Hossein Dehaki was quoted as saying by news agency ISNA.
Iran, which has some of the world's cheapest fuel prices due to heavy state subsidies and the fall of its currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling by land to neighboring countries and by sea to Gulf Arab states.
In the most high-profile seizure, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps impounded the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker, with one Filipino crew on board, in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19 for breaking "international maritime rules. -- With Reuters, Agence France-Presse