Ilonggo seafarer among 17 Filipinos held captive by Houthi rebels in Yemen

Posted by watchmen
November 24, 2023
Posted in TOP STORIES

 

By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga

An Ilonggo seafarer is among the 17 Filipinos who were held captive after a cargo vessel was hijacked by Yemen-based Houthi rebels in the Red Sea on November 19.

In an interview with Radyo Bandera Sweet FM-Bacolod, the seafarer was identified as 41-year-old Leonardo Flores, a native of Iloilo province’s Pavia town, and currently resides in Bacolod City.

Leonardo’s brother, Charlie Flores, in a radio interview, said his family is worried over his brother’s safety.

Charlie said his mother almost fainted, and his father experienced a stroke upon hearing the news that his brother was among the Filipinos held captive by the Yemeni rebels.

Leonardo has worked as a seafarer for eight years now and has chosen to work abroad to give his children a better future.

Earlier, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega confirmed the hijacking of a cargo vessel, Galaxy Leader, and the hostage-taking of its crew.

De Vega expressed concern that the hijacking may have a connection with the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian-militant group Hamas.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. assured the Filipino seafarers’ families that the government is doing all it can to ensure the crew members’ safety.

The DFA is already coordinating with their counterparts in the Middle East for the release of the Filipino hostages.

Reports from foreign news outlets indicated that the vessel was taken by the Houthi rebels, believing it is owned by an Israeli businessman.

However, according to MarineTraffic.com, the Galaxy Leader, a roll-on/roll-off car carrier, is registered in the Bahamas, and operated by a Japanese company.

The vessel was bound for the port of Pipavav in India when it was hijacked by the rebels.

The Houthis, in a statement, said the ship’s crew are in good health, and they are being treated well in accordance with “Islamic customs.”

They have also threatened that all ships belonging to Israel or those dealing with it will be tagged as “legitimate targets,” and will be seized.

Aside from the 17 Filipinos aboard the vessel, the remaining eight crew members are from Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Mexico.

The Houthi movement is an Iran-backed rebel group that has been heavily involved in the ongoing Yemeni Civil War since 2014.

The group is also allied with Hamas, and has even launched its own attacks against Israel in response to the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The Houthi movement is designated as a terror organization by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia./DGB, WDJ

 

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