“HELL-LIKE.”

That was how the three seamen from Bacolod City and Murcia town, Negros Occidental described their working condition on board an international Chinese fishing vessel.

Finally, after months of ordeal, Edwin Ursula, 27, and Richard Amar, 25, of Bacolod City, and Nick Avelino, 24, of Murcia finally returned home from Fiji.

Their return was facilitated by Negros Occidental Provincial consultant Alfredo “Albee” Benitez and his brother Third District Rep. Jose Francisco "Kiko" Benitez.

Amar said that they applied as crewmen of a fishing vessel at Britmark Shipping Services Inc. in Manila in November last year and five months later, they were brought by the company to the pacific island nation of Fiji.

He said that they then undergo a quarantine period before boarding a Chinese fishing boat called "Sea Fresh Fishing."

“We were made to work 22 hours a day with only two hours left to sleep,” he said, adding that they were treated “like animals” and were physically abused.

Amar also said that based on the contract they signed, they are supposed to receive $400 a month but they never received any, not even a single centavo after working two weeks.

“We had a chance to escape after the boat returned to Suva Port because the engine malfunctioned and sought help from the Fiji Immigration officers,” Amar narrated.

They posted their ordeal on Facebook and their plight eventually reached the Benitez brothers who helped them return home.

The three seafarers lamented that they are now “back to zero” as they don't have any money anymore.

It was their first international employment as seamen but they returned nothing.*