21 rescued Filipino seafarers en route to Bahrain on US ship

2024 June 15

Survivors of the March 6, 2024 attack on MV True Confidence in the Gulf of Aden (Photo courtesy of Djibouti Ports Authority X account)

MANILA – The 21 Filipino seafarers aboard the Houthi-hit MV Tutor are scheduled to arrive in the Port of Manama, Bahrain Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Bahrain time (10:30 p.m., Philippine time) via a US Navy ship, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) announced.

DMW Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac said their team that includes the Migrant Workers Office (MWO) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and led by the Philippine ambassador in Bahrain will be at Manama Port to receive the 21 rescued seafarers, according to post of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).

“We shall provide fullest support and assistance to them,” Cacdac said.

At the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City, Cacdac said the collaborative efforts of various government agencies and its foreign counterparts resulted in the quick rescue of 21 out of 22 Filipino seafarers onboard the Liberian-flagged vessel attacked by Houthi rebels on June 12.

He said the rescue came less than 24 hours after President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ordered to have them moved to safety.

“Around 10:30 to 11:00 p.m. last night (Friday), nagkaroon ng rescue ang combined international forces doon and na-extract from the ship … so, in-extract ‘yung 21 Filipino seafarers (there was a rescue from combined international forces and the 21 Filipinos were extracted from the ship) and they were boarded on a security forces ship and taken to safer port,” Cacdac said.

One Filipino seafarer, who was at the engine room when the Houthi group attacked the MV Tutor, is still unaccounted for.

Cacdac said a search operation will be conducted to find the missing Filipino.

He said they have already informed the family of the missing Filipino seafarer and relayed to them President Marcos’ directive to monitor the situation.

“I accompanied the family of the missing seafarer to the office of the manning agency and I met the ship owner’s agent there and we were assured that we will not stop in terms of locating our missing seafarer who is just within the ship,” he said.

“The President has clearly directed us to monitor the situation as well as the continuing well-being of the 21 seafarers who are now headed for safer port. So, it really, really just boils down to finding, locating our seafarer who is still onboard the MV Tutor,” he added.

Whole-of-government approach 

According to Cacdac, the Marcos administration imposed a whole-of-government approach to help Filipino seafarers attacked by the Houthi rebel group in the Red Sea.

Cacdac said the Department of Foreign Affairs is closely working with foreign counterparts for the release of 17 Filipino seafarers captured by Houthi rebels on board cargo ship MV Galaxy Leader in November 2023.

Eleven Filipinos came home safe while two were killed during the attack on Barbados-flagged bulk carrier MV True Confidence in March.

“The ongoing effort to secure their release being undertaken through the DFA. The DFA is communicating with foreign governments who have communication line with Houthi rebels with the objective of securing the release of our seafarers and bringing them home safely,” he said.

Cacdac said the remains of the two fatalities have been secured and are “expected to be home soon.” 

Filane Mikee Cervantes (PNA)