maritime industry

MV Tutor sinks, but PH still holds onto hope missing seafarer survived

Michelle Abad

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MV Tutor sinks, but PH still holds onto hope missing seafarer survived

MV TUTOR. Smoke rises after an explosion on a ship that Houthis say is an attack by them on Greek-owned MV Tutor in the Red Sea, dated June 12, 2024, in this screen grab obtained from a video.

HOUTHI MEDIA CENTRE/Handout via REUTERS

The DFA says it will 'fix' the conflicting reports with the United States, which claimed that the Filipino seafarer already died

MANILA, Philippines – The bulk carrier MV Tutor attacked by Yemeni Houthi rebels on June 12 has sunk into the Red Sea, but the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) remains firm on not confirming the death of the seafarer who was the only one unaccounted for when the crew was rescued.

“He still has not been found. We cannot officially confirm his death or his passing. He is missing, and… we continue to provide support to the family,” Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Cacdac said in a press briefing on Thursday, June 20.

“We will never let go in terms of standing beside the family during these difficult times,” he added.

Cacdac said that the MV Tutor’s sinking rendered it more difficult to search for the missing seafarer. The DMW has yet to receive details on the new search operation.

The DMW secretary and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Arnell Ignacio met with the missing seafarer’s family – three children, two of whom are still in school – “just about the whole day” on Wednesday. They were informed that the boat had sunk.

On Monday, June 17, the United States went ahead to confirm the death of the seafarer, but the DMW said that he was still missing. On Thursday, June 20, the DMW’s stance stayed the same despite the news of the MV Tutor sinking, as the seafarer’s body had yet to be located.

According to Cacdac, the MV Tutor was last seen on Monday, with its last location being near the coast of Eritrea in the southern Red Sea. Salvaging operations were supposed to commence on Tuesday, June 18, but the ship was no longer there when salvaging actors came.

There was also an oil slick reportedly spotted at around the same projected location of the ship, said Cacdac.

According to Foreign Undersecretary for Migration Affairs Eduardo de Vega, as of Thursday afternoon, the Philippines had yet to speak with the US about White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby confirming the seafarer’s death, despite this not aligning with the Philippines’ belief over the status of its national.

“We will fix this,” De Vega said in a message to Rappler.

Houthis struck the Tutor with an unmanned surface vessel that damaged the engine and caused severe flooding. All but one of the 22-member Filipino crew was able to stay put in the boat’s accommodations until they were rescued and repatriated to Manila on Monday.

Filipino seafarers working on commercial ships have the right to refuse sailing when they are informed that their vessels will be passing through high-risk and warlike zones like the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Cacdac said that as of Thursday, at least 78 seafarers had manifested that right.

Seafarers who consent to passing through these zones are entitled to double compensation and other benefits in the event of injury or death. Cacdac said that majority of ships have diverted, but the department was assessing the operations of the ships that do not.

Two Filipinos were earlier confirmed killed in the Houthi attack on the MV True Confidence in March. – Rappler.com

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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.