By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega (PNA photo by Robert Oswald Alfiler)

MANILA – Eleven more Filipino seafarers on board the Iran-seized oil tanker ST Nikolas will return to the Philippines in the next few days, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

DFA Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said the contracts of the 11 have officially expired and their manning agency has already replaced them with foreign crewmembers.

“For some piece of good news, unti-unti nang pinapauwi ‘yong mga Pilipino (more Filipino nationals are now returning) so we have another batch of 11 who will be coming home,” he said in an interview Thursday.

Nine will arrive in the Philippines on Sunday while the other two will fly next week, March 13, he added.

There were originally 18 Filipinos aboard the oil tanker when it was seized by Iranian authorities in January while in transit between the Iraqi port of Basra and Turkey.

One was released by Iran in February.

In 2023, the United States confiscated the oil it was carrying in a sanction enforcement operation.

The Iranian Navy said the January seizure was in retaliation for this action. (PNA)