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Oct 5, 2003
Jailed Seamen Coming Home At Last
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On Wednesday, the 23 Filipino seamen jailed since 2000 in Abu Dhabi will finally be on home soil. They were sent to prison after being accused of defrauding several banks in the United Arab Emirates.

Although it was later learned that the seamen had been forced by their employers to sign bank loans, authorities refused to release them until they paid P7.5 million, the amount the banks had lost. 7 others who were also accused were later released.

Upon learning of the situation, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo raised P5 million with the help of golf tournament sponsors. Donations and pledges by the presidentís relatives and friends during her 57th birthday celebration raised the remaining amount.

According to Fatima Agustin, the spokesperson for the seamen and their families, the 23 will arrive in Manila through a Gulf Air flight accompanied by First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and the countryís envoy to the Gulf cooperation Council, Mr. Amable Aguiluz V.

The seamen will be received by their families and former Ambassador to the UAE Roy SeŮeres, the person responsible for calling the First Gentlemanís attention to the seamenís plight.

A courtesy call on President Arroyo will take place right after the seamenís arrival.

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