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Philippines to Review Seafarer Work Rules as Houthi Attacks Continue

Houthi attacks
After the death of two Filipinos on the True Confidence and a third sailor missing this week on the Tutor, the Philippines says it will review work rules for seafarers (CENTCOM)

Published Jun 14, 2024 12:03 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The government of the Philippines reports that a rescue mission is underway for the crew of the Greek-owned bulker Tutor that was flooded and disabled by two Houthi attacks on June 12. One seafarer, a Filipino, is still reported missing, while government officials said that efforts were underway to repatriate the 21 other crewmembers who are mostly Filipino.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. released a video statement to the people of his country assuring them that “we are doing everything that can be done,” for the crew aboard the Tutor. He said working with the authorities in the region they were “looking for ways to safely transfer the Filipino seafarers to Djibouti where help is underway.”

The Department of Migrant Workers held a press briefing in Manila to discuss the situation and the safety of Filipino crewmembers. They said that the Philippine government will take all necessary measures to secure the safety and well-being of the Filipino crew on board and to ensure justice.

Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Cacdac said they had spoken through video conference with the crew of the Tutor and that the seafarers were “safe and sound,” while still aboard the disabled vessel waiting for the rescue. He said they would be rescued “within the day,” but declined details for security reasons.

He reported that the department was also checking its records to determine if there were any Filipinos aboard the Verbena, the second vessel that was attacked, and also reported that one crewmember was injured. U.S. Central Command confirmed that aircraft from the USS Philippine Sea had airlifted the “severely injured” crewmember for medical attention. EUNAVFOR Aspides is reporting today that the crewmember was from Nepal and was taken to the Dutch support ship HLMNS Karel Doorman for life-saving surgery.

 

 

The Department of Migrant Workers highlighted that with the attacks continuing unabated, it would be reviewing its current policies and processes on whether it could further strengthen the protections for seafarers. They noted that the crew of the Tutor had signed consents to work aboard the vessels, but expressed concern about the continuing attacks. In March, two Filipino seafarers were killed aboard when the True Confidence was hit by a Houthi attack.

Late on Friday, June 14, the UK Maritime Trade Organizations confirmed that the crew of the Tutor has been evacuated. They are reporting that the ship is drifting in the Red Sea and unlit. Reuters says salvage teams are not expected to reach the vessel until Monday.

The Philippines said in April it barred Filipino seafarers from working on cruise and passenger ships that would be sailing through the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden. Most of the cruise ships scheduled for the area diverted and all suspended carrying passengers in the region.

Cacdac said the decision to bar Filipinos from working on those cruise ships was due to the number of crew and people typically on one of those ships. He said it was not because the safety of cargo ships was less important and said that they would now be looking at measures to protect the crews on all ships. He also said they would pursue justice without providing details.

IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez issued a video statement saying the IMO was appalled at the fact that seafarers going about their work continue to be targeted and injured. “I demand all governments and relevant organizations to provide maximum assistance to seafarers affected, and to spare no effort in finding a resolution to this crisis. This situation cannot go on,” said Dominguez in his statement,

U.S. Central Command increased its efforts in response to the recent barrage of attacks. In the past 24 hours, they said forces had destroyed one air defense sensor in a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen as well as an uncrewed surface vessel (USV) and two Houthi patrol boats in the Red Sea. The U.S. also said one aerial drone was destroyed.