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DMW: 2 Filipinos killed in Houthi missile attack off Yemen

DMW: 2 Filipinos killed in Houthi missile attack off Yemen

Two Filipino seafarers onboard a merchant ship plying the Gulf of Aden were killed in the recent missile attack by the rebel group Houthi, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said on Thursday.

The DMW said two other Filipino crewmen were “severely injured” in the attack which set the ship ablaze around 50 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen's port of Aden.

The agency vowed to extend full support and assistance to the families of affected seafarers, upon the directive of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. 

“We in the Department of Migrant Workers sincerely extend our deepest condolences to the family and kin of our slain, heroic seafarers. For reasons of privacy, we are withholding their names and identities,” the DMW said in a statement. 

Based on a Reuters report citing the US Central Command (CENTCOM), the attack, which the Houthis claimed responsibility for, killed three seafarers onboard the Greek-owned, Barbados-flagged ship True Confidence on Wednesday.

The Greek operators of the True Confidence said the vessel was drifting and on fire. They said there were 20 crew and three armed guards on board, including 15 Filipinos, four Vietnamese, two Sri Lankans, an Indian and a Nepali national.

The DMW said it is coordinating with the ship’s manning agency and shipowner to know the conditions of the rest of the ship’s crew, particularly the remaining overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). 

“We have been informed that they have been taken to a safe port,” it said. 

The DMW said it has also coordinated with the principal shipowner and manning agency to work on the repatriation of the remaining Filipino crew members. 

The agency urged shipowners with vessels navigating the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden sea lanes to comply with the expanded “high risk areas” designation and to implement appropriate risk mitigation measures, such as rerouting vessels and deploying armed security personnel onboard these vessels.

It also called for continued diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and to address the causes of the current conflict in the Middle East. 

Houthi rebels, an ally of Iran, have been launching long-range missile and drone salvoes at Israel in solidarity with the Hamas militants fighting in Gaza Strip.

Act of terrorism

In a statement, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri slammed the attack, describing such as a plain act of terrorism.

"I strongly condemn the fatal attack of the Houthi rebel on a cargo ship near Yemen, which led to the death of two Filipino crewmen and injured two more. This is an act of terrorism, plain and simple—waging violence and death on civilians who are simply trying to make a living out on the seas. There is no way to justify this brutality," Zubiri said.

The Senate president likewise called on the DMW to seek the return of the victims to their families and extend assistance to the injured crew members.

In November last year, 17 Filipino seafarers were among the foreigners held hostage when the Houthis seized a cargo ship in the southern Red Sea, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). 

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega earlier said that while the release of these OFWs was certain, there was no assurance of when this would occur.

DFA has also sent a team to Yemen to provide assistance to the affected seafarers amid the ongoing negotiations. —KBK/RSJ, GMA Integrated News