By Marita Moaje

M/V True Confidence (Photo courtesy of US Central Command)

MANILA – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Thursday confirmed the death of two Filipino seafarers in a recent attack by Houthi rebels on merchant vessel navigating the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

“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 statement read.

Aside from the two Filipino casualties, the DMW said it received information that two other Filipino crewmen were severely injured after their vessel “True Confidence” was struck by an anti-ship ballistic missile.

The agency hopes for their immediate recovery.

The DMW assured it will extend its fullest support and assistance to the seafarers’ families, as President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ordered.

Currently, the DMW is working closely with the ship’s manning agency and shipowner to ascertain the conditions of the remaining Filipino crew members.

The Barbados-flagged bulk carrier M/V True Confidence owners and manager earlier confirmed the incident took place about 50 nautical miles southwest of Aden, while on its way from China to Jeddah and Aqaba, carrying a cargo of steel products and trucks.

The ship has 20 crew members, of whom, one is an Indian national, four Vietnamese and 15 Filipinos; and three armed guards, two Sri Lankans and one Nepalese.

The DMW said it was informed that the crew had been taken to a safe port.

Repatriation efforts of the remaining Filipino crew members are now underway, in coordination with the principal shipowner and the manning agency.

The DMW, meanwhile, reiterated its call to shipowners with ships navigating the volatile Red Sea –Gulf of Aden sea lanes to comply strictly with the expanded “high risk areas” designation, and to implement appropriate risk mitigation measures such as rerouting vessels and deploying armed security personnel onboard such 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. (PNA)