11 Filipino crew members of Oceanstar 86 are set to fly back to the Philippines, after being forced to quarantine on their vessel in China for 6 months. Accompanying them are 5 other seafarers who were stranded at the M/V Maria P. in Ningde since July and 3 are land-based oversees Filipino workers from China.
The group who had been unable to return to the Philippines from China during the pandemic is already back home to the Philippines on Monday evening, 28th September 2020. Wearing full-body personal protective suits provided by the Philippine government, the group arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila via a chartered flight of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) from Xiamen.
“Sobrang saya namin (We are so happy),” one of the seafarer Anthony Medina told Rappler via Facebook messenger, also attaching an emoji of a puppy jumping to portray the excitement of the crew to go home.
Last August, showing their dire onboard living conditions, the crew of Oceanstar 86 sent Rappler a video pleading for their immediate rescue.
The crew were only allowed to use a water kettle to heat the relief goods that they received. Men slept on the floor, lying next to washing machines, while other crew members laid down underneath tables, in what appeared to be a dining area crowded with boxes and personal belongings.
Sarah Lou Arriola, the DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs and other DFA staff took pictures of their arrival, then they welcomed and briefed them at the airport before taking them for their mandatory isolation at a quarantine facility. The department had also previously assured the seafarers that they would receive their remaining salaries, be provided with welfare assistance and other entitlements.