By Marita Moaje

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Tuesday said it will no longer allow boarding of Filipino seafarers on ships that were attacked by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

“What we do know for now is that we will take action with respect to the principals or shipowners who have been involved in at least the three attacks — Galaxy Leader, True Confidence and Tutor,” DMW Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac said in a press briefing.

Majority of the crew members of M/V Galaxy Leader, M/V True Confidence and M/V Tutor are Filipinos.

“At the very least, the three principal shipowners and therefore, we’ll no longer process or allow the boarding of seafarers onboard these three principals or shipowners who had been the subject of attack,” he said.

He said the DMW has been in discussion with maritime stakeholders for risk and security assessment, and to intensify the protection of Filipino seafarers.

On the right to refuse sailing, Cacdac said shipowners need to improve the time element on giving notices to Filipino seafarers that the vessel they are boarding will navigate through high-risk zones.

“We have received some reports that some of our seafarers were not really given an adequate amount of time to exercise the right to refuse sailing,” he said.

Cacdac said 78 Filipino seafarers have so far refused to sail and shipowners acknowledged their decisions.

The DMW issued guidelines in March for licensed manning agencies (LMA) to observe in case a Filipino seafarer is assigned on ships that would pass by high-risk and war-like areas.

Department Order No. 1 states of paramount interest is continued safety and well-being of all Filipino seafarers “in light of the increasing incidence of piracy, hijacking, and/or armed violence against ships passing through the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and surrounding areas/waters.”

The DMW ordered principal shipowners and LMA to divert their routes and avoid passing through the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and nearby areas.

Twenty-one Filipino seafarers of MV Tutor have returned home after their vessel was attacked by Houthi rebels on June 12. However, one Filipino remained missing.

Another bulk carrier, M/V Transworld Navigator, was attacked on Sunday. All 27 Filipino crew members are safe.

“The complexity of the situation really calls for a proper security assessment with technical details inherent in the security assessments,” Cacdac said.

Cacdad said the DMW will ask authorities in maritime security such as the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard, and the Department of Foreign Affairs to help them in risk assessment. (PNA)