The M/V Evangelia M is a bulk carrier built in 2010, sailing under the flag of Liberia with IMO 9506708, MMSI 636016409, and 33005 gross tonnage, 57000 DWT.
She was detained at Kakinaba, India, with 21 Filipino seafarers: Capt. Alexander Apao, Chief Mate Vicente Berro Jr., 2nd Mate Loreto Obrero Jr., 3rd Mate Phil Sumbi, C/E Gary Garbo, 2nd Engr. Leonardo Ico, 3rd Engr. Nestor Babalo, 4th Engr. Rodel Rodriguez, Electrician Ricardo Julio Jr., Bosun Joel Tumaob, ABs Orantes Acosta Jr., Joerey Taton and Rowel Gacute, OS Aldrin Paul Lucas, Deck Cadet Warlito Garcia Jr., Fitter Ricardo Camilo, Cook Virgilio Palomo, Oilers Eddie Cargason, NeilJohn Cahigas and Romeo Gadiana, Cat/Boy Paulo John Papa.
After almost five months, they returned home in three batches, the last on Dec. 20 with Capt. Apao and Chief Mate Berro when 14 Indian replaced the Filipinos as the ship must have a maintenance crew, at least.
Marino World took interest on the Oct. 5th letter of Richard O. Algabre, addressed to Pres. R.R. Duterte via Christopher Lawrence T. Go, Special Assistant to Duterte, and handled A/Sec Joseph Encabo on regional concerns.
Algabre claimed his uncle, Master Mariner Alexander B. Apao, Sr. of Mundiang, Bunawan, Davao City, is stranded in Kakinaba, India, with 21 other Filipino seafarers onboard the M/V Evangelia M on restricted provisions, unpaid wages for four months, uninformed on any help.
In a phone interview Dec. 20th, Capt. Apao relayed to Marino World their extreme anxieties without wages, limited food and ship power, so stressed with problems coming from their families triggered by uncertainties of the situation.
Where are you?
Frontline expectations should come from their manning agency, Evic Human Resources Management (EHRM). The seafarers find the agency unconcerned, so are government offices like OWWA, POEA, DFA.
When seafarers plight became viral on the social media, action followed from so many quarters, including a Congressional probe at the Lower House which cautioned the mariners were not abandoned but ownership of the vessel transferred to a bank, that they are “not stranded”, as links are being established for communications and repatriation.
EHRM General Manager Raul Panizal claimed it did not ask for government aid as EHRM is already addressing the problem. Besides, EHRM may get suspended should regulatory agencies get to know there is a problem.
Panizal recalls that of three piracies they have experienced, POEA merely keep suspending EHRM which aggravate problems in that other seafarers cannot be deployed. But records show
seabased workers are often repatriated more than those landbased.
Implementing RA 10022 are Sections 2, 3 and 4, Rule XIII of the Omnibus Rules and Regulations and Sections 197 and 198 of the Revised Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Sea Based Overseas Filipino Workers of 2016.
These direct crewing agencies “…to provide plane fare or pre-paid ticket advice (PTA) within 48 hours” to repatriate an OFW. Proof of compliance must be submitted with POLO acknowledging receipt of the PTA. Failure may be met with suspension.
Easily, and on the M/V Evangelia experience, some US$54,000 dollars were spent by EHRM in India (for PTA, lawyers and “agents”) and no haggling on prices to avoid delay or non-action, plus P1.4 million 1-month home allotments of 80% basic wages.
The Phil Embassy in New Delhi proudly announced distribution of welfare assistance from the DFA’s ATN Fund totaling US$2,100 to the 21 Filipino seafarers (a miniscule $100 each!).
The seafarers’ advocate in the Lower House, Rep. Jesulito Manalo of Angkla, has filed on 14.11.18 a resolution pending at the Committee on Rules, directing the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs to conduct an inquiry “on the protections granted by the Dept. of Labor and Employment, Phil Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Dept of Foreign Affairs, and the Maritime Industry Authority against the abandonment of seafarers in light of the incident in Kakinada Port, India.
Congress may consider these 10 Points on abandonment from Seafarers Right Intl:
- Make sure that your employment agreement is written and signed by you and your employer and that it deals with your repatriation in the event of your abandonment.
- Be alert to the early signs of abandonment and take action as soon as appropriate.
- If you are abandoned, you may wish to contact the Port State Control authority; the flag state of your ship; your embassy or consulate; various government departments in the port state; the ITF, your own or local trade union; various welfare organisations and/or a local lawyer.
- If you have not been paid your wages and need food, accommodation, drinking water supplies, fuel for survival on board your ship and medical care and require repatriation at no cost to yourself, you can directly access the financial security system under the MLC (for up to four months).
- If your shipowner fails to meet the costs of your repatriation under the MLC, you should approach the flag state to effect your repatriation. If it fails to do so, the country from which you are to be repatriated or the country of which you are a national may arrange for your repatriation.
- If you have not been paid your wages (for any period of time) and need repatriation instruct a lawyer to enforce your rights under your maritime lien by arresting the ship to which the maritime lien attaches, or by arresting a sister ship in the event that the ship to which your maritime lien attaches is of insufficient value to pay for your wages and repatriation.
- If your rights to financial security under the MLC; a maritime lien; and to arrest a sister ship are to no avail and the shipowner is seeking to evade your claim, you may be able to obtain a court order compelling him not to remove his assets from the country so that if you get a judgment against him based on your employment agreement you can execute the judgment against those assets.
- You may be able to obtain assistance from the SEF, the ITF, your own or local trade unions and welfare organizations.
- If you are at risk of detention and deportation, you should instruct a lawyer to manage those risks and ensure your repatriation.
- If you are abandoned, the shipowner may be committing a criminal offence.