November 24, 2023
MANILA – Several Filipino crew members of Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea were among those held hostage last Sunday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed to INQUIRER.net.
DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said 17 Filipinos were seized when Houthi armed group hijacked Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea.
“No comment muna. But there are 17,” he said in a text message on Wednesday.
But DFA Spokesperson Teresita Daza, in a separate message to reporters, said the DFA has been “making diplomatic representations with governments” regarding the incident.
“DFA is working with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) which has primary jurisdiction over assistance cases involving seafarers. But there is an all of government approach and various government agencies are meeting and working together on this. We assure the public that everything is being done to get our seafarers back safely,” said Daza.
INQUIRER.net has also sought DMW’s comment, but it has yet to respond as of writing.
A Reuters report, however, initially disclosed that 25 crew members of Galaxy Leader were taken by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. These hostages were identified to be from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, as well as Mexico.
The Houthi group previously stated that all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or carrying the Israeli flag “could be targeted.”
Israel, on the other hand, called the incident as “another Iranian act of terrorism.”