By Anna Leah Gonzales

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PCO photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Sunday extended his sympathies to the families of the two Filipino seafarers who died in the recent attack by Houthi rebels aboard a merchant vessel navigating the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

In a statement, the President assured all efforts are being exerted to bring the remains home.

“I join the nation in offering our deepest sympathies to the families of the two Filipino seafarers who perished in the Houthi attack on True Confidence. The government is in constant contact with their families, and we will spare no effort in bringing their remains home,” Marcos said.

President Marcos said the 13 surviving Filipino seafarers are safe in Djibouti.

The Philippine Embassy in Cairo, Egypt is leading efforts for the seafarers’ safe return home as soon as possible, along with three others who were injured during the attack.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Migrant Workers, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Health were instructed to provide assistance to the affected seafarers and their families.

President Marcos also ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development to assist the victims.

The Barbados-flagged bulk carrier M/V True Confidence carrying steel products and trucks was on its way from China to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Aqaba, Jordan at about 12:30 p.m. on March 6 when it was attacked by Houthi rebels, some 50 nautical miles southwest of Aden.

The ship was rescued by the INS Kolkata, an Indian warship.

A BBC report said aside from the 15 Filipinos, there were one Indian and four Vietnamese crew members accompanied by three armed guards — two from Sri Lanka and one from Nepal.

One of the Vietnamese was also killed.

President Marcos joined global calls “for the end to this conflict and for full respect for the principle of freedom of navigation.”

He said the Philippine government is committed to the safety and welfare of the Filipino seafarers and overseas Filipino workers in the affected region. (PNA)