The Thai government is doing everything to help the Filipino seafarers, said Ms. Apinya Tajit, Deputy Director of Stella Maris and contact person of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in Thailand.
When Ms. Tajit had informed the Thai government about the sad plight of 16 Filipino seafarers, who were stranded in the Gulf of Koh Si Chang in Sri Racha, the latter acted promptly and confirmed to find ways to help them.
The Thai government team and Stella Maris have been coordinating with the Immigration to provide the seafarers more days to stay legally in Thailand while their case is going on.
As of this moment, the ship, MV Panormitis, is in custody of Thai government after the contractor failed to declare the cargos in the ship.
The Thai government with the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan ordered different agencies to form a team that would help the seafarers. The team is composed of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Social Welfare Department, Anti Trafficking In Persons Division, Immigration, Marine Department and Marine Police.
Stella Maris which is officially known as the Apostleship of the Sea is a Catholic charity organization that supports seafarers worldwide and provides practical and pastoral care to all seafarers, regardless of nationality, belief or race.
On August 8, the team together with representatives from Stella Maris visited the Pinoy sailors aboard the ship. They interviewed the crew members and checked their physical health.
On August 9, eight members of the crew went to the mainland for an interview at the marine police in Sri Racha. They were later sent to a government shelter in Bangkok. From August 11-13, the group went back to Sri Racha where they spent the long holiday. Their hotel accommodation was paid by Stella Maris. Each of them was also given 1,000 baht for their food while on the island. When they got back to the ship, the second group, also composed of eight crew members went through the same process from August 14-16.
The crew’s cry for help started on June 16 after the shipping company failed to pay the 16 seafarers their wages for more than four months. While being stranded oh Koh Si Chang, the seamen started to ask for help from Filipino community in Thailand thru a Facebook page. As a result, different Filipino groups organized a drive to gather funds to help them. And on July 31, ten Filipinos went to Koh Si Chang to bring food supplies and other goods.
On the other hand, the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok already visited the seamen to check their situation. They were also given food subsidy of 150 baht each per day. The Embassy is also representing the crew members in coordinating with the concerned agencies.