MANILA, October 17, 2008 (AFP) – The Vice-President of the Philippines has confirmed the hijacking of a Filipino-manned ship off Somalia and appealed to shipping companies to sail within areas patrolled by a multinational coalition. “We are still awaiting further developments on the latest Somali piracy case,” Noli de Castro said in a statement that named the seized vessel as the African Sanderling, which has a crew of 21 Filipinos.
The Malaysia-based watchdog International Maritime Bureau reported on Wednesday that the bulk carrier was boarded by armed men in the Gulf of Aden while en route to Asia from the Middle East.
“I want to reiterate our appeal to the international shipping companies to take extra precautionary measures and to strictly follow the directive to limit voyages to the ‘safe zone’ or the Maritime Security Patrol Area,” de Castro said.
“Multinational naval forces of US, Britain, and France among others, are patrolling and giving assistance to vessels” using this corridor, he added.
He said Filipinos sailing off Somalia are receiving “double hazard pay” and “are given the option to disembark from the ship should they decide not to continue with the voyage because of the risks involved.”