DMW to probe alleged labor trafficking of Pinoy fishermen in Africa

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) — The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is investigating an alleged labor trafficking case involving 36 Filipino fishermen, who were forced to fish in Namibia in Southern Africa last year.

“Based on the testimonies that we gathered, the fishermen were sometimes made to work for 36 hours straight with only two meals a day, and an average of four hours of sleep,” DMW Secretary Susan Ople said Tuesday in a statement.

“Their identity papers including passports and seaman’s books were kept away from the workers which is a blatant violation of the rights of these seafarers,” she added.

The case was also endorsed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).

According to the affidavits of the 26 repatriated fishermen, they were made to believe that their work will be in Taiwan.

The Filipino fishermen were among the 60 individuals who were rescued from fishing vessels MV Shang Fu and Nata 2 in Walvis Bay, Namibia in September 2022.

Trioceanic Manning and Shipping, Inc. and Diamond H Marine Services and Shipping Agency — the two manning agencies who deployed the fishermen to Namibia — have already appeared before the DMW, the agency said.

The two manning agencies have also given the fishermen their back wages. However, Ople said the financial settlement will not hamper the pursuit of an investigation into the alleged labor trafficking.

Namibian authorities are also investigating the two manning agencies for human trafficking and violations of Namibia’s Labor Act, Immigration Control Act and the Marine Resources Act.

Ople said Shang Chi Enterprise Ltd, One Marine Services, Inc. and Arrow Marine PTE, Ltd. are also under investigation for their involvement in the case.

“They are facing permanent disqualification from the hiring of Filipino fishermen,” Ople said.