Stranded Pinoy Seamen in Malta Asking for Help
Staff of the Philippine Embassy in Rome recently visited a stranded cargo ship that has been drifting off Malta's ports for months to personally check the condition and provide assistance to the twenty-one (21) Filipino seafarers that are aboard the said ship.
The abandoned ship, the MV A Lady Bug is a Taiwanese-owned cargo ship that carries cars and trucks. The Assistant Secretary of DFA, Raul Hernandez said that officials in Malta just recently allowed the ship to enter into its territories, with Malta even providing the fuel.
The Pinoy seamen told embassy officials that they would welcome repatriation assistance, but first they hope to claim their pending salaries and other benefits from their employer.
Hernandesz said in a press briefing, “The seafarers said they wished to be repatriated as soon as possible, but only after their pending claim for back salaries and other benefits from the management of the ship are fully settled. MV A Lady Bug, a Panamanian-registered vehicle carrier had been adrift “for months” some 15 nautical miles or around 28 kilometers off Maltese port limits.
He added, “The crew had problems with nonpayment of wages and with their food provisions, fuel and water. With the problematic anchor and lack of fuel, the ship found itself drifting, a cause of concern not only for the vessel but also for the security of other passing boats in the area.”
It appears that the mother company of MV A Lady Bug is having financial troubles. The DFA spokesperson also said that the reason why the ship was not granted access to the Maltese ports right away is not clear but added that there there are certain protocols that ships should comply with when entering a port that is not part of the original itinerary.
As of this writing, he DFA has no information about the port of origin of MV A Ladybug, supposed destination, and the company that hired the Filipinos.
The Filipino crewmen and the ship's captain which is from Pakistan decided to file a legal case against the Taiwanese employers. Their decision to take legal action is supported by the International Transport Worker’s Federation in Malta which promised to give assistance.