overseas Filipinos

DFA says ‘efforts ongoing’ for release of Filipinos held by Houthi rebels

Bea Cupin

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DFA says ‘efforts ongoing’ for release of Filipinos held by Houthi rebels

INFILTRATION. A Houthi military helicopter flies over the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023.

Houthi Military Media via Reuters

(2nd UPDATE) As of March 8, 2024, they are still under hostage but able to contact their families, according to a government official

MANILA, Philippines – After President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. canceled, at the last minute, a trip to Dubai over “important developments” on Filipino seafarers held hostage by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it sees them being released.

“Efforts are ongoing for this to happen as soon as possible,” said DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega, who handles migrant workers affairs for the department, in a message to reporters on Thursday, November 30.

As of March 8, they were still being held hostage by the rebels, according to Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Eduardo de Vega. “But they are able to contact their families,” he told Rappler.

Marcos, in a rare move, canceled a trip to the United Arab Emirates for the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP28.

“In light of important developments in the hostage situation involving 17 Filipino seafarers in the Red Sea, I have made the decision not to attend COP28 in Dubai tomorrow,” said Marcos in a statement.

De Vega, responding to queries from the media, said the “hostages are in good condition, and will eventually be released.”

Marcos said he would be sending a “high-level delegation to Tehran, Iran, with the aim of providing necessary assistance to our seafarers.”

De Vega said the composition of the delegation has yet to be finalized.

The DFA earlier confirmed that Iran-backed Houthis seized the Israel-owned and Japan-operated Galaxy Leader cargo ship on Sunday, November 19. The Houthis had been hitting Israeli targets as an act of solidarity with Hamas.

17 Filipino seafarers held hostage by Houthi group in Red Sea – DFA

17 Filipino seafarers held hostage by Houthi group in Red Sea – DFA

Israel has been waging a relentless war on Hamas, leading to the siege of the Palestinian territory Gaza.

Over 14,800 Palestinians have died since October 7, when Hamas launched an attack on Israel. Over 1,200 Israelis were reported killed in that surprise attack.

Despite a truce between Israel and Hamas that led to the release of hostages on both sides, pockets of violence have still been reported in Gaza.

Violence has also been surging in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.

The truce, which was originally set to end on Monday, November 27, had been extended for two more days. Officials – led by Qatar – said they were optimistic the truce would be extended again. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.