By Marita Moaje

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac on Monday said all 27 Filipino crew of Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned and operated cargo carrier M/V Transworld Navigator are safe after their vessel was attacked by Houthi rebels on Sunday while navigating the Red Sea.

“Hindi siya [M/V Transworld Navigator] na-immobilize, nakapag patuloy yung barko, nakapaglayag pa siya at nailigtas yung 27 na crew on board. Hindi malubha yung pagkakatama sa kanya (It was not immobilized, the ship was able to continue, it was able to sail and the 27 crew on board were saved. The vessel sustained no serios damage),” he said in a radio interview.

The ship was hit three times by Houthi rebels, using uncrewed surface vessel (USV) but was able to continue its voyage.

Cacdac said this is the fourth attack on shipping vessel with Filipino crew members, navigating the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

“Pang apat na ito, meron yung na hostage na hanggang ngayon ay naka-hostage pa rin sila, yung isa naman tinamaan, dalawa yung nasawi, at yung pangatlo yung Tutor, ito yung may isang nawawala although ligtas yung 21 (This is the fourth one, there were others held hostage and are being held hostage up to this time, the other one was hit, two were killed, and the third one the Tutor, this is the one that has one missing although 21 are safe),” he said.

Cacdac said the 27 seafarers of MV Transworld Navigator are now safe in an undisclosed location.

The Filipino crew would most probably be repatriated because they experienced being attacked, and that they need to be with their families here in the country, he added.

He said the families of the seafarers have already been informed of the incident.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels owned the attack on M/V Transworld Navigator, and on another ship, Stolt Sequoia, in the Indian Ocean using cruise missiles.

The rebel group has been attacking ships navigating in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since November, in what they say as an act of solidarity with Palestinians amid Israel’s war in Gaza.

The DMW is reviewing the policies to ensure the safety of Filipino seafarers on ships traversing high-risk areas (HRAs).

“Tayo’y matagal nang nanawagan sa mga shipowners na divert yung kanilang voyages at kung hindi maiiwasan ay magtalaga ng maritime security escort, at yung armed guards on board at yung tinatawag na right to refuse sailing bigyan ng pagkakataon yung mga OFWs na pagpasyahan kung gusto niyang sumakay o hindi (We have long been calling on shipowners to divert their voyages and if this cannot be avoided, assign a maritime security escort, and the armed guards on board and implement the so-called right to refuse sailing to give the OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] a chance to decide if they want to board the vessel or not),” Cacdac said. (PNA)