DFA welcomes home stranded seafarers from China

“Despite existing restrictions on the disembarkation of seafarers in China and the difficult conditions under which this special flight was mounted, the Department of Foreign Affairs remains committed to its promise of bringing our kabayan seafarers home. Our message to all OFWs is clear — whether you’re on land or at sea, the Philippine Government, under the Duterte Administration, will continue to prioritize your welfare and safety,” said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola.

DFA photo

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomed home 16 stranded Filipino seafarers and three land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from China, who arrived at 1:30 a.m. today at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Of the 16 seafarers, 11 were from Ocean Star 86, who have been stranded in Dongshan since March 2020. The other five were from M/V Maria P., who have been stranded in Ningde since July 2020.

Both are Chinese fishing vessels which were affected by China’s “no disembarkation” policy as precautionary measure due to the pandemic and the unavailability of commercial flights.

The seafarers who disembarked from said two vessels traveled by land for 1.5 hours and 4.5 hours to Xiamen, respectively.

Undersecretary Arriola added that this repatriation is a product of months of negotiation with the Chinese government. She said the Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen and the Philippine Embassy in Beijing worked closely with the Chinese authorities to allow the disembarkation of seafarers and the mounting of the special flight.

Prior to departure, the seafarers underwent RT-PCR test and all were found negative of COVID-19 virus. They also wore PPEs as an added precaution.

Upon arrival, the seafarers were subjected to appropriate medical protocols required by the Department of Health (DOH). In accordance with the Omnibus Guidelines established by the Interagency Task Force, they are also now observing the mandatory quarantine. DFA.GOV.PH