7 Filipino seafarers jailed in Libya return

SEVEN Filipino seafarers who were detained for about two years in Libya after they were accused of trying to smuggle fuel yesterday arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 following their release from prison in Libya via the intercession of Philippine Embassy officials.

The seven, identified as Aldwin Emperado, 34, of Tabuk Kalinga; Gil Crusada of Nasugbu, Batangas; Capt. Arthur Taleno of Las Pinas; Fulgencio Eulogio, 53, of Leyte; Abraham “Gerry” Naduman, 45, of Misamis Occidental;  Claro Allera and Ronnie Moniva, were escorted by Presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Affairs Abdullah Mamao on board Turkish Airlines via Istanbul.

Upon arrival at the NAIA Terminal 3, the said seamen were met by their families and government officials, among them Presidential Adviser Jesus Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello.

It was learned that the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli have worked hard for the release of the seven seafarers who have consistently denied the charges filed against them. The Libyan High Court ordered their release a few weeks ago.

The seamen left the North African country along with Mamao, who expressed his gratitude to Libyan authorities after meeting with the Libyan Foreign Minister Taher Siala in Tripoli. He delivered the letter of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin to Minister Siala.

The seven seamen were among the 20 Filipinos arrested after the Libyan Coast Guard boarded and seized Liberian-flagged M/T Levante while anchored in international waters. The 20 Filipino seafarers were then accused of trying to smuggle fuel and have been detained in Libya since 2017.

In February 2018, 13 of the Filipino crewmembers of Levante were released but the remaining seven were charged before the Libyan Court.

In November 2018, the seven Filipinos were sentenced to four years in prison for allegedly attempting to smuggle 16 million liters of fuel, a charge they vehemently denied.