MANILA, Philippines – Seventeen Filipino seafarers were among those taken hostage by Yemen’s Houthi armed group, rebels hijacked their cargo vessel in the Red Sea on Sunday, DFA confirmed.
“There are 17 Filipinos according to the manning agency, along with other foreign nationals. We are very concerned about this,” DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said in an interview.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the government is “doing everything in [its] power” to ensure that the seafarers will be able to return home safely.
“DFA is in coordination with their counterparts in Iran, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia for updates, and the DMW is in regular communication with the families of the hostages,” Marcos wrote in a social media post.
Meanwhile, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said the hijacking of the ship Galaxy Leader was in response to the “heinous acts against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank.”
“If the international community is concerned about regional security and stability, rather than expanding the conflict, it should put an end to Israel’s aggression against Gaza,” Saree said in a post on X (Twitter).
6-If the international community is concerned about regional security and stability, rather than expanding the conflict, it should put an end to Israel's aggression against Gaza.— Yahya Sare'e (@Yahya_Saree) November 19, 2023
The cargo ship has 25 crew members taken hostage by the rebels, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) also said in a statement. Earlier reports showed the other victims are from Bulgaria, Ukraine, Mexico, and Romania.
The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) gave assurance that efforts are being made to bring home the 17 Filipino seafarers safely. The DMW also assured to provide full support and assistance to the seafarer families.