Help 'definitely' coming to Filipino seafarers stranded in China

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — The government is working to bring home seafarers stranded in China due to restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

Speaking to CNN Philippines on Sunday, Labor Secretary SIlvestre Bello III said, "Definitely, tutulungan 'yan ng ating gobyerno."

[Translation: Definitely, they will receive help from the government.]

However, Bello said the agency did not have an office in China, so they would be working with the Department of Foreign affairs so the seafarers could come home.

"Ang problema namin sa Department of Labor...wala kaming opisina doon, wala kaming Philippine Overseas Labor Office, POLO for short, so we will coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs. Meron naman silang embahada doon," he told Newsroom Weekend.

[Translation: Our problem at the Department of Labor is that we do not have an office there, there is no Philippine Overseas Labor Office, so we will coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs because they have an embassy there.]

Bello did not give any details on what arrangements are being worked on to bring home the Filipinos.

CNN Philippines reported that 22 Filipino seafarers aboard bulk carrier MV Nikiland were appealing for help after they were not allowed to disembark since arriving at at the Caofeidian port in China's Hebei Province on July 3, 2020.

After spending half a year at sea in China, several seafarers are now starting to get sick. Some of them could not get immediate medical attention due to the cost, logistics, and restrictions.

Despite still being paid by the Greek company that owns MV Nikiland, some of them are already working beyond their contracts.

The captain said the ship owners assured them they are doing their best for them to disembark or at least be allowed to change crews at the port but to no avail.

After becoming aware of the seafarers' plight, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin Jr. sent out a tweet saying he wanted the Filipinos home "now."