"..a bardy view!"

Filipinos – The Merchant Maritime Matelots…..

….Is the title of a Hubpage I wrote several months ago. The general gist being that Somalian pirates (or pirates working out of Somalia) hijack ships with impunity, and governments tend to wash their hands (at least visibly) and leave the problem with the shipping lines,owners or insurers, who generally (and mutually) pay up ransoms.

The problem is that the majority of kidnapped sailors are Filipinos because they constitute the majority of merchant sailors.The other problem is that ships fly several flags of convenience. Although legitimate, the practice can be as grey as an Atlantic sea fret.

Hence the reason why so many countries are reluctant to get involved to protect their citizens. A merchant vessel could have several different nationalities on board. Pirates know that and also know that as long as they don't kill anyone, they have a fairly healthy illegal vocation that renders nations impotent. My argument on the Hubpage was that the Philippines Government cannot act independently even if it had the resources,  but require the assistance of a global consensus, international support, and a moratorium that will exercise universal action.

Yet again another incident has occurred. The tanker MT Motivator, carrying lubricating oil has been seized along with its crew of 18 Filipinos in the Gulf of Aden.

Although a few kidnapped sailors from a previous hijack were released recently, this new batch has brought the total to at least 70 Filipinos being held by these new age pirates.

The fact is ransoms get paid, and as I remarked in my Hubpage, commercial expediency requires a ship to sail and a cargo to be delivered. Protracted lengthy negotiation with pirates is not economically viable.

Maritime law is a minefield and even in the 21st century nothing much has changed during the past two hundred years.

Maritime insurance and the legal world it operates in is a murky business, and its a business which is not only slow, but enjoys the status quo.

There is a reason why flags are convenient.

Postscipt: a day after this post, very timely, and purely coincidently, the BBC broadcast "The Report" on this very issue. It puts the whole subject in perspective.


July 7, 2010 - Posted by | Current Affairs, Politics | , , , , , , , ,

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