Church official seeks swift action for release of 17 Filipino seafarers held hostage by Houthis in Red Sea

November 27, 2023 - 11:30 AM
A Houthi fighter stands on the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. (Houthi Military Media/Handout via Reuters)

A Catholic bishop has urged the government to swiftly act for the release of the seafarers, including 17 Filipinos, who are being held hostage on a ship by Houthi rebels off the coast of Yemen.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of the maritime charity Stella Maris-Philippines urged authorities to ‘exhaust all ways and means’ to facilitate the release of the seafarers.

“Let us pray consistently for our government officials that they may not be tired to exhaust all the ways and means, try and open other possibilities to liberate our hijacked seafarers,” Santos said.

The Filipino seafarers were on board an Israeli-linked cargo ship Galaxy Leader that was hijacked in a helicopter-borne attack by the Iran-backed Houthis in the southern Red Sea on Nov. 19.

The rebels have been launching drones and long-range missiles at Israeli targets in solidarity with Hamas.

The Philippine foreign affairs department said that while the vessel is owned by Israel, it is operated by a Japanese company.

Santos, who is also the bishop of Antipolo, assured the hostages and their families of his prayers during “this painful and problematic” situation.

“Like what their families and loved ones feel, this also brings us anxiety, worries and immense sadness,” he said.

The bishop also said that the chaplains of Stella Maris network will offer Masses for the safe release of the hostages.

“We pray fervently to God and trust Him all the more that our seafarers will be saved and will be safely back home,” he said.