MANILA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- Somali pirates freed 17
Filipino seamen after more than two months of captivity, while 91 Filipino
sailors still remain in the custody of ransom-seeking armed bandits, the
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
The Filipino sailors were kidnapped in the Gulf of
Aden last Sept. 21, when heavily armed Somali pirates hijacked their Greek cargo
ship MV Captain Stefanos as it sailed through the dangerous waters.
They were freed Monday night, according to Foreign
Undersecretary Esteban Conejos, who said the freed seamen were "safe and in good
The sailors are on their way to Italy and will
proceed to Greece where they will be met by the ship-owners, Conejos said.
Conejos did not say if ransom was paid to secure the
seafarers' freedom. He said in the past that the government would not pay ransom
and negotiate directly with kidnappers as a policy.
The Philippines supplies a third of all of the
world's sailors. The 350,000 Filipino sailors fanning out the globe work on
major oil tankers, luxury liners and passenger vessels, which are exposed to
pirate attacks in dangerous regions.
Manila has been in a dilemma on how to provide
protection for the sailors. It says that banning Filipinos from certain risky
regions would be difficult because of the rapid mobility of the sailors and its
lack of ability to monitor their movement.