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Pinoy Abroad

36 Pinoy seafarers still missing 57 days after ship capsized off Japan

The families of the 36 Filipino seafarers who are still missing almost two months after their ship capsized off Japan have urged authorities to continue search and rescue operations for their loved ones.

Mary Joy Fortun, the wife of missing seaman Ronald Fortun, tearfully appealed to lawmakers for help during an overseas workers affairs committee hearing at the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Though she expressed gratefulness to the Philippine and Japan governments, she said efforts have not been sufficient. She also said the operator of the ill-fated M/V Gulf Livestock 1 has discontinued her husband's salary.

"I would like to appeal to this body to please help us, maawa kayo sa amin, hinihingi lang po namin sa may-ari sa pamamagitan po ng ating gobyerno na tulungan kami na magkaroon ng search and rescue," she said.

M/V Gulf Livestock 1, which carried 43 crew members, 39 of them Filipino, and around 5,800 live cows, capsized in the seas of southern Japan after experiencing engine problems amid a typhoon on September 2. Two Filipino crewmen were rescued alive, and another was found dead.

The ship also had two crew members from New Zealand, one from Australia, and one from Singapore, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. has appealed to the Japan Coast Guard to continue search and rescue operations, and that Tokyo has given assurance for "robust patrol operations" in the East China Sea.

"As of the moment, the Japanese Coast Guard has not found any significant clue but continues the search for the missing crew..." Arriola said.

Other nearby countries have also assured cooperation, she said.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Administrator Hans Cacdac said the families of the missing seafarers have received P200,000 in financial aid, a livelihood package, and scholarship for one dependent until they graduate from college.

The family of the deceased seafarer have also received death and burial assistance apart from livelihood and scholarship benefits, while the two survivors have gotten psychosocial counselling, stress debriefing, a similar scholarship for one dependent, and P100,000.

Marino Party-list Rep. Macnell Lusotan moved for the filing of a resolution urging the DFA, OWWA, the Philippine Coast Guard and other concerned government agencies to form a task force that will initiate search and rescue operations for the missing seafarers. The motion was seconded.

A resolution would still have to be filed for this purpose.—LDF, GMA News