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Govt to Negotiate Release of Filipino Seafarers

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has assured the public that the government will “exhaust all remedies available” to secure the release of the 17 Filipino seafarers, including negotiating with the group holding them hostage.

In a video message uploaded on the Presidential Communications Office’s official Facebook page late Thursday, the President said the government is forming a delegation to go and negotiate with the Houthi rebels.

“There are things that need to be attended to immediately. One of them is our compatriots, our fellow Filipinos, who were taken hostage, 17 of them have been taken hostage, and we are exerting all efforts to bring them home,” Marcos said.

“That’s why we are forming a delegation to talk to those who are holding them so they could go home. I’m sure you would understand that we put that first because we have to ensure the security of our countrymen,” he added.

Marcos was supposed to attend the Conference of Parties for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), but canceled his trip to facilitate a meeting for the 17 Filipino seafarers.

In the same video message, the President apologized to the Filipino community in the UAE for the cancellation of his trip to Dubai, saying he had to prioritize the hostage situation in the Red Sea.

“It’s really sad because I was looking forward to being with you,” the President said, noting that meeting overseas Filipinos were the “happiest” engagements he had during his previous foreign trips.

“I feel very bad I will not be able to do this with you at this time. But I promise you, if there is another opportunity, we will do it again, and I will make it up to you.”

The Houthis, an ally of Iran, have launched missile and drone attacks against Israel in solidarity with the Hamas militants fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Israel said the Houthis had seized a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship in the southern Red Sea, describing the incident as an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security.

Source : Manila Times