By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is hopeful that the kidnapping of 11 Filipinos in West Africa can be resolved before the end of the month.
“Before the end of November siguro,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in an interview with reporters at the Palace when asked if abducted Filipinos can be safely recovered before Christmas.
Two Filipino seafarers were recently kidnapped by suspected pirates in the West African nation of Togo while nine Filipino sailors were taken in Benin last week.
Bello said they have obtained the names of the Filipino seafarers and have informed their next of kin. But he declined to release the names of the seafarers. “There’s an advice that we keep confidential the identities for the meantime,” he said.
Asked if there is proof of life, Bello affirmed they have obtained such information.
When asked if the sailors are being treated well, he said: “Very well.”
He also affirmed that the government would stick to the no-ransom policy when it comes to kidnapping incidents. “No ransom policy. Wala naman ransom demand. Unverified yun,” he said.
Malacañang recently expressed concern about the kidnapping of 11 Filipinos in separate incidents abroad. The Palace said Bello was handling the situation.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recently said the government was actively tracking the development of the case with the Embassy in Abuja. It also continued coordination with relevant authorities to ensure the safety and security of the Filipino seafarers.