KIN OF PINOY SAILORS DETAINED IN LIBYA ASKS PRRD FOR HELP
MANILA — The relatives of seven Filipino seafarers who have been detained in Libya for 17 months called on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to intervene in the fast release of their loved ones.
“Our loved ones are detained in Tripoli since August 2017. They’ve been in detention for 17 months,” Cristal Allera, wife of a Filipino officer on board the Liberian-flagged tanker MT Levante, said during a press conference in Manila.
“Our children are still young. That’s why we are appealing to our president to please help us, to please assist us, to please give us your immediate help, assistance for the swift release of our loved ones,” she added.
An emotional Allera expressed fear for the safety of her husband, who is staying with six other Filipino seafarers in a facility said to be prone to attack by other militias.
Allera said the sailors are staying in a crammed cell where safe drinking water and medical aid are scarce.
Allera’s spouse, together with six other officers, was among the 20 Filipino sailors detained in August 2017 for alleged oil smuggling. The 13 crewmen were released in February 2018.
Their vessel was anchoring 25 nautical miles off Libyan territory while waiting for further order on their next destination when it was boarded by armed men led by Abdulrahman Salem Ibrahim Milad, known as Bija, commander of Zawiya Refinery, Western Section.
Allera said these men introduced themselves as Libyan coast guards.
In a report from the Philippine Embassy in Libya on October 17, Chargè d’Affaires Mardomel Melicor said the Coast Guard “informally informed” them that there was no reason for the seizure.
“But because it was ordered by the RADA militia, the Coast Guard had to comply,” Melicor said.
According to Melicor, RADA is practically the army in Libya. There are three big militias in Tripoli, each having their own territory, and about a thousand all over Libya. If compared to the Philippine setting, a militia group would be equivalent to a heavily-armed barangay tanod group.
In the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations (UN) Support Mission in Libya last year, Abdulrahman was identified as a leader in one of the human trafficking networks in Libya.
According to the UN, he is the former head of the Libyan Coast Guard in al-Zawiya, who was suspended from his post on June 22, 2018.
Along with five others, the UN Security Council on June 7 last year placed global asset freeze and travel ban on Abdulrahman.
Because of the complexity of the issue, Allera said she and the six other families decided to face the media, calling for intervention by the Chief Executive.
This, as she clarified that the Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Department of Labor and Employment, have extended legal aid and assistance within their capacity to the seamen.
“We just wanted to appeal because their case is quite intricate. We want to ask if the President can come in and intervene,” she said.
“Sa amin po kasi, para kaming nakalutang. (We feel like we are floating.) Damned if we don’t, damned if we do if we are going to step forward or just sit still. We’re just doing everything that we can do to influence the people here and to appeal on our behalf because Libya is very far,” she added