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DFA checking for Filipinos aboard Iran-seized vessel

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MANILA: The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is checking whether a Filipino national is among the crew members of a vessel seized by Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) near the Strait of Hormuz. Once confirmed, the DFA vowed to extend all necessary assistance to ensure their release. 'We are working in coordination with the Philippine Embassy in Tehran and the Department of Migrant Workers to verify the presence of Filipino seafarers on board,' it said Saturday night. 'If so, no efforts will be spared to have them released and returned home as possible,' it added. The agency emphasized that the welfare of Filipino seafarers and other overseas nationals is an ongoing commitment of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. Iran's state-run IRNA said a special forces unit of the IRGC carried out a heliborne operation on the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries on Saturday, directing it towards Iran's territorial. The vessel is operated by the Zodiac Maritime Shipping Company, which IRNA identified as partly-owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer. The Iran media said the incident comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel over the latter's 'attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria on April 1'. The MSC has yet to release the nationalities of the vessel's 25 crew members. Source: Philippines News Agency