21 Pinoy seafarers back in Manila, recall ordeal

21 Pinoy seafarers back in Manila, recall ordeal

NO PLACE LIKE HOME Twenty-one Filipino crew members of MV Tutor, the merchant ship attacked by Houthi rebels on June 12, arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on Monday from Bahrain. One of their colleagues remains missing following a drone and missile attack in the Red Sea last week. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

NO PLACE LIKE HOME Twenty-one Filipino crew members of MV Tutor, the merchant ship attacked by Houthi rebels on June 12, arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on Monday from Bahrain. One of their colleagues remains missing following a drone and missile attack in the Red Sea last week. —Photos by Grig C. Montegrande

MANILA, Philippines — A boat carrying bombs and two dummies caused a powerful explosion that damaged the bulk carrier M/V Tutor as it was sailing on June 12 in the “war-like zone” in the Red Sea, near the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, according to its Filipino ship captain.

The explosion was followed by a drone missile attack on the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned merchant, causing severe flooding and damage to the engine room.

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The 21 rescued Filipino crew members of M/V Tutor arrived in Manila on Monday.

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READ: 21 PH crewmen rescued from ship struck by Houthi rebels

Another Filipino crew member believed to be in the vessel’s engine area during the attack remains missing and is feared dead.

Ship captain Christian Domarique said the first attack occurred around 9 a.m., adding that they initially thought the skip boat rapidly approaching their vessel was a fishing boat since it seemed to be carrying two people.

Double whammy

“Our armed guards cannot fire at people since [we thought] it was a fishing boat. When it was coming close, we saw they were dummies. It was very fast and came after us,” Domarique said at a press conference at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 shortly upon their arrival.

“When it reached the ship, it exploded. That’s how fast things happened,” he added.

The next attack happened by drone around 1 p.m. while the ship was already taking in water. “We could only pray,” Domarique said. The crew was rescued two days later by international forces led by the US Naval Forces but there was no body found in the engine area.

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The Filipinos came from Bahrain, where they were sent off by Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain Anne Jalando-on Louis on Sunday. They were accompanied by Labor Attaché Hector Cruz.

SAFE AND SOUND M/V Tutor captain Christian Domarique becomes emotional as he narrates what he and his crew went through when their ship was attacked twice by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.While he and 20 others were saved, another Filipino crew member remains missing and is feared dead. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

SAFE AND SOUND M/V Tutor captain Christian Domarique becomes emotional as he narrates what he and his crew went through when their ship was attacked twice by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea. While he and 20 others were saved, another Filipino crew member remains missing and is feared dead.

At Naia, they were met by Migrant Workers Secretary Hans  Cacdac, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa and Tingog party list Rep. Jude Acidre.

Financial help

The seafarers received financial assistance of P230,000 each from the government upon their arrival.

Before they left Bahrain, they were also given 192 Bahraini dinars each (about P30,000).

Speaker Martin Romualdez and Tingog party list lawmaker Yedda Marie Romualdez also gave the seafarers P150,000 each from the couple’s personal calamity funds.

“We are deeply relieved that our brave seafarers are coming home safe. This assistance is a token of our gratitude for their courage and resilience during this harrowing ordeal,” Romualdez said.

His office is also coordinating with other government agencies to provide additional aid to the families of the repatriated seafarers, including the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or the Department of Labor and Employment’s (Dole) Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program.

Also included in the aid package being worked out for them are financial assistance of P10,000 for every qualified immediate family member under the Ayuda para sa Kapos ang Kita or Akap program of the DSWD; a 20-day emergency employment under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced workers or Tupad program of Dole; as well as educational assistance through the Tulong Dunong scholarship program of the Commission on Higher Education.

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Last March, two Filipino crew members, as well as a Vietnamese seafarer of the commercial ship M/V True Confidence became the first fatalities of the Houthi attacks. Two other Filipino crewmen were also seriously injured.

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TAGS: Filipino seafarers, Houthi Rebels, Naia Terminal 3

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