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Philippine Asked To Fight For 17 Kidnapped Tuna Seamen

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) on Monday formally requested the Department of Foreign Affairs to make strong representations with the Somali government for the quick release and safe return of 17 Filipino seamen on board a Taiwanese vessel.

MECO Assistant Corporate Secretary, lawyerArthur Abiera Jr., in a letter sent Monday to DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Esteban B. Conejos Jr., said the seamen were part of the 30-man crew of a Taiwanese fishing vessel that was taken by Somali pirates in international waters off the Seychelles Islands last week.

In a statement e-mailed to media outfits, Abiera said he also relayed the request of MECO's counterpart agency in Taiwan—the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO)—for the Philippine government to render its assistance in the release of the 30-man crew.

On April 6, Somalian pirates seized a Taiwan-registered tuna long-line fishing vessel home-ported in Kaohsiung, the Win Far 161 in the Indian Ocean.

MECO said that the Taiwanese authorities and the vessel owners have sought the assistance of other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom for the early resolution of the incident and the safe release of the vessel and its crew.

As of Monday, however, the vessel and its crew are still held by the pirates, Abierra said.

Likewise, the TECO advised MECO of the incident last April 10 and promised to provide periodic updates on the case.

“In the meantime, they welcome any form of assistance the Philippine may lend in the early resolution of the hijacking and the safe release of the vessel and its crew," Abiera wrote.

Abiera said that MECO was standing by to provide the DFA and other government agencies with the latest information on the incident and for coordination with the vessel owners and TECO.