maritime industry

DMW to revisit deployment rules after 1 Filipino reported missing in Houthi attack

Michelle Abad

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DMW to revisit deployment rules after 1 Filipino reported missing in Houthi attack

SEIZED SHIP. Armed men stand on the beach as the Galaxy Leader commercial ship, seized by Yemen's Houthis in November, is anchored off the coast of Yemen, December 5, 2023.

Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

DMW Secretary Hans Cacdac says the Filipino crew consented to work on the MV Tutor, which traversed the high-risk Red Sea area

MANILA, Philippines – Following a report of a “missing” Filipino seafarer onboard the bulk carrier MV Tutor in the Red Sea, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is keen on revisiting its policy on the discretion of Filipino seafarers to traverse high-risk and warlike areas.

DMW to revisit deployment rules after 1 Filipino reported missing in Houthi attack

In a press briefing on Friday, June 14, Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Cacdac confirmed that one Filipino seafarer was reported missing after an Iranian-backed Houthi unmanned surface vessel (USV) struckMV Tutor, a Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned and operated vessel, in the southern Red Sea.

The vessel had 22 crew members who were “predominantly Filipino,” the DMW said.

“We have also noted that there is one of the 22 who is missing. The ship was hit at a delicate spot, and the engine room was flooded. Right now, we are still in the process of trying to…account for the one particular seafarer on that ship, and we’re praying that we could find him,” Cacdac said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The southern Red Sea is on the International Bargaining Forum’s (IBF) list of high-risk and warlike zones. When an area is classified as such, Filipino seafarers have the right to refuse sailing, and if they choose to traverse these areas, they will be given double compensation, among other benefits.

The Filipino crew members had consented to sailing on MV Tutor, Cacdac said. He added that he saw the crew on video chat and that “everybody is safe and sound.”

In light of the reported missing Filipino, the DMW chief said, “given this incident, we will review the current policies, the current processes, on whether we could still further strengthen to seek more adequate protection for our seafarers.”

In April, the DMW barred Filipino seafarers from working on cruise and passenger ships set to pass through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, but commercial ships were not included in the order. Cacdac said that cruise ships could potentially hold more than 100 seafarers or hotel workers, unlike a merchant ship.

“So, we sounded the alarm. It was not so much to say that cargo ship seafarers should be less protected but it was more to say that a cruise ship that has the propensity to carry more than a hundred seafarers should by no means be allowed or made to pass through the Red Sea,” he said.

“But having said that, again, we will now subject the policy and review because the attacks go unabated, and cargo ship seafarers must always be protected and be safe,” he added.

Cacdac added that the Filipinos aboard MV Tutor would be rescued “within the day,” without disclosing further details for security reasons.

In a statement issued earlier on Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) condemned the attack.

“The Philippine government will take all necessary measures to secure the safety and well-being of the Filipino crew on board and ensure justice. We call on all UN member states to protect the human rights of seafarers,” the DFA said.

The DFA added that Philippine authorities would take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the Filipinos aboard the MV Tutor, and will pursue justice.

The United States Central Command called the Houthis’ actions “malign and reckless behavior” that threatened regional stability, and endangered the lives of seafarers across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Two Filipino seafarers were earlier reported killed by a Houthi attack on MV True Confidence. – with reports from Bea Cupin/

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.