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BusinessWorld (Philippines): Palace assures families on safety of workers

Published: Jan 25, 2007

Malacanang assured the families of 24 seafarers abducted from the cargo ship Baco-Liner on Jan. 20 that all possible means would be exhausted to ensure the safety of these overseas workers.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos said negotiations are ongoing between the Nigerian government and the abductors, a militant group identified as the Movement to Emancipate the Niger Delta.

He said the government is hands-off on the negotiations but assured that it is constantly in touch with its Nigerian counterparts. Malacanang has maintained the ban on deployment of workers to Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is not entertaining a repatriation of workers from Nigeria.

Despite the repeated incidents of kidnapping in the country, OWWA Administrator Marianito Roque said that “repatriation is not being considered. The [kidnapping] is only an isolated incident.”

There are around 2,128 Filipino workers in Nigeria, mostly working for the oil exploration companies such as Shell and Chevron.

Mr. Roque said that “the negotiations [with the rebel group] are ongoing through the head of the Warri province [in Nigeria]. The issue has a political color, but it’s all being taken cared of.”

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